A New Exodus

Mel Goldberg

About Mel Goldberg

After earning my Master’s Degree in English, I taught literature and writing in California, Illinois, Arizona, and at Stanground College in Cambridgeshire, England. For seven years, my wife and I lived in a small motor home, traveling the US, Canada, and Mexico. We currently live in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico (near Guadalajara) but maintain a Texas mail address.In 2019, Red Moon Press published The Weight of Snowflakes, my book of haiku. In 2020, Finishing Line Press published Memories, my book of free verse poetry.

About A New Exodus

A few years ago as I returned home from a community seder I imagined the moon was speaking to me as a Jew in Mexico. The poem refers to a community Passover seder celebrated by a group. Shmita means “release” and celebrations involve both personal and communal participation. Passover marks the release of Israelites from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. The poem also suggests my personal guilt in not being in Israel.


Here in Mexico
there was a full moon
over the restaurant
where we read Haggadah,
retelling the Passover story
of our escape from Egypt.
We ate karpas and bitter herbs,
consumed matzos and drank wine
and had a dinner of roast beef.

But as I walked home,
the full moon chastised me:
“Why do you exile yourself to Mexico
once called New Spain
when you should be in Jerusalem?”

I responded, “It is different now
in the twenty-first century.”
But the moon was not assuaged.
“Do you not understand?
The Lord God parted the waters
for you three thousand years ago,
prevented the Egyptians
from pursuing you into the desert
and gave you quail and white seeds
as small as beads of frost
which you made into cakes
that tasted like wafers
made with oil and honey.”

I had no response.
I have exiled myself
to a country from which
my forefathers were also forced
to flee north five hundred years ago
by order of the Spanish King and Queen
Ferdinand and Isabella
to insure Catholic orthodoxy.

The moon said that
the message to flee
is rooted in my bones
it flows with every pump of blood
from my heart.
“It pounds in your brain and
is your ancient Jewish memory.
You shall never find peace
in any foreign nation.
Return to the land of your ancestors,
to the homeland of God.”