A new poem by Shai Afsai.
There are flamingos in the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – eight pink birds, each balancing itself on one twig-like leg. And there are a few full-length mirrors fastened to trees in the Flamingo Habitat, which the flamingos gaze into attentively. I ask the caretaker, who is aggressively chasing away ducks and feeding the fish and other birds, why there are full-length mirrors in the Flamingo Habitat. She explains that flamingos like to see other flamingos around them, and that as four of the eight flamingos have been temporarily removed for medical care, mirrors were placed in the habitat in their stead. And my first thought is that flamingos are like Jews, sharing in common this absolute need to be surrounded by their own. There have been entire months when I’ve not made it to synagogue or Sabbath meals in Rhode Island, but as soon as I’m off to a new city or country, I’m compelled to seek out Jews there. But on second thought, flamingos are not like Jews. For the flamingos don’t spend all of their time gazing in the mirrors. They look around. You learn only so much gazing in the mirror. Most American Jews know nothing about Jews in Israel. Most Reform Jews know nothing about national-religious Jews. Most Conservative Jews know nothing about haredi Jews. As S. Ansky noted, 'there is no other People who can speak so much about itself and yet know itself so little as the Jews.' Some episodes of Fauda and Shtisel don’t change this.