You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

Channel Esther: Syrian Refugees

Lawrence Bush
February 8, 2017

by Esther Cohen

Photograph by Matthew Septimus

EVERY Super Bowl Sunday

I go to the movies with Bruce

but this year we both had other plans

still I walked over to his apartment

to have a drink before

met a man named Ahmed on the way.

“I am a Syrian refugee,” he said.

“I need your help. My four

children have no food. Help us,” he said.

“Where do you live?”

“Do you want to go there now?”

“I can’t but I’ll come another day.”

In my notebook he wrote

104 and Columbus as his address and then,

his children’s ages and I had ten dollars

in my wallet to give to him and we

said goodbye and I felt something

was wrong. But what?

Everyone I told this story to said

he was not who he said he was not

a Syrian refugee I believe he was

a man named Ahmed who needed ten dollars

and I had ten dollars to give to him.

Was there more?

Esther Cohen is arts consultant for Jewish Currents and writes a poem nearly every day at Facebook.

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.