[wpforms id="1589"]
[wpforms id="2370"]


Another Way to Ask for Forgiveness: A Modern Take on An Age-Old Prayer

By Rebecca Guber

Published Sep 24, 2022


Another Way to Ask for Forgiveness: A Modern Take on An Age-Old Prayer

Poet Jake Marmer gives us his highly personalized, free-associative, free-wheeling version of the viduy, a traditional Yom Kippur prayer in which one goes through a list of transgressions and asks for forgiveness. This, however, is also a rowdy, raucous celebration of language, and one’s own otherness.

So, while it is a kind of an apology, it is also an act of resolution and self-forgiveness.


Lines for Yom Kippur 5774  

By Jake Marmer 


I would like to apologize to language for all of the misfired and misdirected syllables  

for words lost to all-mangling mangy gesticulation  


for overdoing it and paper accordions  

I thought that jamming was the thing of the past  

for Slavic bodily uprisings and Hebraic groan of truth inaudible in its entanglement,  

all imaginary  

I’m sorry for shaving my profile photographs  

and for the midnight refrigerator euphoria  

for clogging rather than bridging  

gestation and gesticulation  


for being legitimately broke it’s easier than I imagined  

and does nothing for the soul  

I am sorry can I have another otherness?  

so that I could eat out too?  

I apologize for being on the books  

of the unpacked boxes of Russian poets I shoved in the storage unit  

the apartment’s too small!  

for the sack of discomfort lugged and wrought and spread like wares  

I apologize to all Americans for eating your words  

they were so cold and delicious  

for furthering and murmuring  

for the rudimentary grill of foreignness  

smoking with offers to almighty  

mangling mangy mad gesticulation  




Rebecca Giber is the founding Director of The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life.



Are there traditional liturgical pieces you wish that you, or someone else, had re-written? What would you change? 


Do humor and playfulness belong in a prayer? Why and why not? 

Want more?

Get curated JewishArts.org content in your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.