"Bitterly She Weeps In the Night": Voices of Exiles and Refugees, Past and Present

By Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
two people holding hands in shadow

This is a text sheet that takes a few lines of each chapter of Eicha and puts a parallel quote from an immigrant parent separated from their children.

1. איכה א׳:ב׳-ה׳
(ב) בָּכ֨וֹ תִבְכֶּ֜ה בַּלַּ֗יְלָה וְדִמְעָתָהּ֙ עַ֣ל לֶֽחֱיָ֔הּ אֵֽין־לָ֥הּ מְנַחֵ֖ם מִכָּל־אֹהֲבֶ֑יהָ כָּל־רֵעֶ֙יהָ֙ בָּ֣גְדוּ בָ֔הּ הָ֥יוּ לָ֖הּ לְאֹיְבִֽים׃ (ס) (ג) גָּֽלְתָ֨ה יְהוּדָ֤ה מֵעֹ֙נִי֙ וּמֵרֹ֣ב עֲבֹדָ֔ה הִ֚יא יָשְׁבָ֣ה בַגּוֹיִ֔ם לֹ֥א מָצְאָ֖ה מָנ֑וֹחַ כָּל־רֹדְפֶ֥יהָ הִשִּׂיג֖וּהָ בֵּ֥ין הַמְּצָרִֽים׃ (ס) (ד) דַּרְכֵ֨י צִיּ֜וֹן אֲבֵל֗וֹת מִבְּלִי֙ בָּאֵ֣י מוֹעֵ֔ד כָּל־שְׁעָרֶ֙יהָ֙ שֽׁוֹמֵמִ֔ין כֹּהֲנֶ֖יהָ נֶאֱנָחִ֑ים בְּתוּלֹתֶ֥יהָ נּוּג֖וֹת וְהִ֥יא מַר־לָֽהּ׃ (ס) (ה) הָי֨וּ צָרֶ֤יהָ לְרֹאשׁ֙ אֹיְבֶ֣יהָ שָׁל֔וּ כִּֽי־יי הוֹגָ֖הּ עַ֣ל רֹב־פְּשָׁעֶ֑יהָ עוֹלָלֶ֛יהָ הָלְכ֥וּ שְׁבִ֖י לִפְנֵי־צָֽר׃ (ס)
Lamentations 1:2–5
(2) Bitterly she weeps in the night, Her cheek wet with tears. There is none to comfort her of all her friends. All her allies have betrayed her; They have become her foes. (3) Judah has gone into exile Because of misery and harsh oppression; When she settled among the nations, She found no rest; All her pursuers overtook her In the narrow places. (4) Zion’s roads are in mourning, empty of festival pilgrims; all her gates are deserted. Her priests sigh, Her maidens are unhappy— She is utterly disconsolate! (5) Her enemies are now the masters, Her foes are at ease, because the LORD has afflicted her for her transgressions; her infants have gone into captivity before the enemy.
"He (my son) didn't know where he was going, so he was looking at me like, 'Mom, help me, because I don't know where they're taking me,'" Jocelyn, 31, said Wednesday, beginning to sob uncontrollably. "I didn't know what was going to happen to us. I spent the night crying because I wanted James to be protected, and I didn't know what was going to happen to him."

—Jocelyn, a mother seeking asylum after fleeing her native Brazil because of domestic violence.


2. איכה ב׳:י״א
(יא) כָּל֨וּ בַדְּמָע֤וֹת עֵינַי֙ חֳמַרְמְר֣וּ מֵעַ֔י נִשְׁפַּ֤ךְ לָאָ֙רֶץ֙ כְּבֵדִ֔י עַל־שֶׁ֖בֶר בַּת־עַמִּ֑י בֵּֽעָטֵ֤ף עוֹלֵל֙ וְיוֹנֵ֔ק בִּרְחֹב֖וֹת קִרְיָֽה׃ (ס)
Lamentations 2:11
(11) My eyes are spent with tears, My heart is in tumult, My being melts away over the ruin of my poor people, As babes and sucklings languish In the squares of the city.
3. איכה ב׳:י״ח
(יח) צָעַ֥ק לִבָּ֖ם אֶל־אדושם חוֹמַ֣ת בַּת־צִ֠יּוֹן הוֹרִ֨ידִי כַנַּ֤חַל דִּמְעָה֙ יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה אַֽל־תִּתְּנִ֤י פוּגַת֙ לָ֔ךְ אַל־תִּדֹּ֖ם בַּת־עֵינֵֽךְ׃ (ס)
Lamentations 2:18
(18) Their heart cried out to the Lord. O wall of Fair Zion, Shed tears like a torrent Day and night! Give yourself no respite, Your eyes no rest.

"He didn't recognize me... My joy turned  to sadness." —Mirce Alba Lopez, speaking of being reunited with her three-year-old son.


4. איכה ג׳:נ״ה-נ״ו
נה) קָרָ֤אתִי שִׁמְךָ֙ יי מִבּ֖וֹר תַּחְתִּיּֽוֹת׃ (נו) קוֹלִ֖י שָׁמָ֑עְתָּ אַל־תַּעְלֵ֧ם אָזְנְךָ֛ לְרַוְחָתִ֖י לְשַׁוְעָתִֽי׃)
Lamentations 3:55–56

(55) I have called on Your name, O LORD, From the depths of the Pit. (56) Hear my plea; Do not shut Your ear to my groan, to my cry!

“I am in bad shape because, when I was released, I was told I would be reunited with her (but I have not been yet)... I ask God that soon I will also be reunited with my daughter. I hope to experience this joy soon.” —Mario, in El Paso at a temporary migrant shelter just 10 blocks from where his daughter is living, with other children removed from their parents.


5. איכה ד׳:ג׳
(ג) גַּם־תנין [תַּנִּים֙] חָ֣לְצוּ שַׁ֔ד הֵינִ֖יקוּ גּוּרֵיהֶ֑ן בַּת־עַמִּ֣י לְאַכְזָ֔ר כי ענים [כַּיְעֵנִ֖ים] בַּמִּדְבָּֽר׃ (ס)
Lamentations 4:3

(3) Even jackals offer the breast and suckle their young; but my poor people has turned cruel, like ostriches of the desert.

"My soul is broken. We made a huge sacrifice to come here asking for protection and instead of help, they are torturing us... It's a living hell without my children. My children suffered during the journey. And now they suffer over there (in the U.S.). They don't have liberty." —Ignacio Villatoro, a father who has taken sanctuary in a church in Tijuana, Mexico. His wife is being held in a detention center in Texas, an older child in a detention center in California, and three children (13, 6, and 2) in a New York state detention center. The family fled violence in Guatemala. 


6. איכה ה׳:כ׳-כ״א
כ) לָ֤מָּה לָנֶ֙צַח֙ תִּשְׁכָּחֵ֔נוּ תַּֽעַזְבֵ֖נוּ לְאֹ֥רֶךְ יָמִֽים׃ (כא) הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ יי ׀ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ ונשוב [וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה] חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם׃)
Lamentations 5:20–21
(20) Why have You forgotten us utterly, Forsaken us for all time? (21) Take us back, O LORD, to Yourself, And let us come back; Renew our days as of old!

"I want to thank everyone who made this possible, because for me it seemed impossible at one point... When it's in God's plans, everything is possible." —Rosayra Pablo-Cruz, a mother from Guatemala who was separated from 5-year-old and 15-year-old sons for two months while the children were staying in New York with a foster family. 


This source sheet was first published at Sefaria.