Much to Savor in The Collected Writings of Sarah Rose Horowitz

Later, Deborah, the daughter who is probably Sarah’s alter ego in the story, engages a Palestinian young man making a political statement about Israel on the Berkley campus by pointing out that his approach would make it hard for him to convince people like her. “I gather you’re Jewish?” Jamal asks.

“I’m not religious, but my parents are Jewish,” Deborah replies.  “As my brother would say, ‘it was good enough for Hitler.’”

Most of the stories in the collection are beautifully drawn character sketches that could almost be described as extended prose poems. A good example of this is Six Million Israelis Bought Milk Today. In less than two pages, Sarah captures, through the thoughts of an Israeli housewife, the underlying worry of living in a land where random terrorism is a fact of life -- as well as the frustration of having that terrorism define one’s image in the world, even while the average citizen leads a more or less normal life. Not much “happens” in this short sketch, but a lot is said -- and the observations and emotions conveyed have real staying power.

Poetry was Sarah Rose Horowitz’s public medium, and it shows.

Even when dealing with current events and dropping names like O.J. Simpson and Bill Clinton, Sarah avoids the angry protest tone of the poetry slam, opting instead for an occasionally ironic tone. But even those poems bring it back to the personal:

Life is getting so much like television I keep forgetting

I’m not a talk show host, these are just my friends

And this is my kitchen

But it’s not all contemporary commentary:

In A Dream

you woke me

with a kiss

tender as a


Among the Talmudic commentaries, one in particular will stand out for anyone, Christian or Jew, who has spent any significant time in worship services.

In “Bo,” which is the Hebrew word for  “come,” Sarah deals with the hard topic of what it meant that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” against granting Moses’s appeals to let his people go, in the midst of the plagues before the Exodus; and whether that meant Pharaoh was no longer responsible for the evil he committed.  It’s a question I have heard many sermons on, but it was handled deftly in this commentary.

Sarah points out that those who focus on judgment have missed the point. It is a measure of God’s mercy that He gave Pharaoh five chances to repent before leaving him to his own devices. She relates this to our own lives; that, like Moses, we must also come to those who have bad intentions toward us and repeatedly give them the chance to do the right thing. When we do, she says, God will come with us.

This essay perfectly sums up the character that shines through at every turn of the page in this rich and varied literary collection: persistence, mercy, determination, grace, and intellect.

Those who order The Collected Writings of Sarah Rose Horowitz from at this link for $25.00 will get David Horowitz's A Cracking of the Heart for free.