Shabbat Blackout in Gaza

Amanda Gelender 🔮
3 min readOct 28, 2023
An illustration of two, red Shabbat candles on an abstract green background

It’s Shabbat so Israel has turned off the lights,
A complete blackout for Gaza

It’s a hunter’s moon tonight, a lunar eclipse
The wax drips off the candles and my Jewish faith sinks into the floor

I light the first Shabbat candle for Gaza before the world snuffs her out
I can’t see G-d in the darkness, just orange plumes and moonlit shrapnel scraping children’s feet

You told Jews that Israel was a safe haven, a bit of shelter and peace
But you are a militia, burning villages
A demigod, raining down fire
A sadist, raping political prisoners
A coward — you’re legendary for it, after all

I lay my body into the earth as ground troops swarm
Does G-d smile at your barbarism, Israel?
You hide behind tanks, surveillance, and banned accounts
Turn on the lights, you coward
Let me see your face

You can’t win against the “children of darkness” — even in a blackout, they know you better than you know yourself
In the name of Jewish people, you raped Palestine’s sister
You martyred her cousin
You sniped her best friend on the basketball court
You killed 8,000 and counting
And then cast doubt the body count
Count again Gaza, count every finger, limb, and skull under the rubble — professors, artists, journalists, brides with tattered dresses billowing in the smoke

I don’t feel my G-d in this dark Shabbos night of the soul
Only the pain in my gut, the spilled intestines of my brothers and sisters on blood-drenched concrete
School is canceled, all the children are dead
Are Jews safe now, Israel?

I remember there were kids laughing and playing at that school
There was a family having dinner in that home
There was a baby just brought home from that hospital — now dust, casings, ruins

Judaism’s moral soul is obliterated in a fog of white phosphorus gas and the collective choking silence of my people

You are so comfortable in your stolen homes with running water, Israel
Gaza is a burning bush — on fire but still not consumed by the flames
She is a phoenix. You are a paid ad, a PR spin, a bought politician.
The children of darkness have sparked a light in all of us
You cannot buy what the Palestinians have, not even in your dreams
She is the enduring spirit of resistance, she is all of us who see through you in the dark, she is me.

Israel is an airlift, a second passport, a stocked fridge with a light
Israel is a checkpoint, a harvested organ, an injection of forced birth control
Israel is a remote control sniper and a bombed religious site

It’s Sabbath, is that why you can’t turn on the electricity, Israel? Perhaps any other nation could do a mitzvah and step in?

My Jewish people have twisted our identities into a knot with an abuser, wrapping our beautiful, ancient Jewish faith in a poisonous sheath of violent nationalism
What about the 36 righteous people, Israel?
Did they perish in unplugged incubators or in line for a bit of bread?
You can cut off the voice of Gaza but millions of us will pour in to tell the world who you are

Part of me is dead tonight in Gaza
But my Jewish heart still beats like a drum for Palestine, from the river to sea
I say the Shehecheyanu this Shabbat to celebrate the first day of the rest of our lives, if Gaza makes it through the night

Palestinians haven’t given up so I could never
Every week I light a Shabbos candle for the freedom of Palestine
Tonight I light 2.2 million candles for each Gazan to see in the dark, and for each of my fellow Jews to see through the lies

This is the genocide Jewish people could prevent
Lay down your weapons, Israel. It’s Shabbat, the time to rest

Gaza tried to send you a message but the cellular towers are destroyed
So in the cover of darkness, I slip this prayer through a crack in the wailing wall:

May Palestine be free and may all empires fall

Amanda Gelender is an anti-zionist, Jewish American woman. She has been part of the Palestinian solidarity movement since 2006.

twitter: @agelender | instagram: @agelender

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Amanda Gelender 🔮

🪐 Jewish queer anti-zionist 🇵🇸 TV/film, abolition, plant medicine 🍄 Writer | Poet 🌙 linktr.ee/agelender