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Modern Orthodox Students Meet to ‘Slam’ in Poetry Combat

The students could have come from anywhere, but the content of many of the poems dealt with various aspects of their relationship to God and to Judaism.

Award Recipients at Feb. 19 YU League Slam Poetry Competition at SAR High School

Award Recipients at Feb. 19 YU Slam Poetry League Competition at SAR High School
Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The urban influence was obvious in Kohelet junior and team co-captain Celeste Marcus’s presentations.  She received the award for Best Performance.

While Yeshiva of Flatbush had only three competitors at this SAR competition, the two seniors, Jacob Tessone and Bonnie Azoulay, made it to the final round. Azoulay received the award for Best Poet.

Flatbush was introduced to Slam Poetry when the League’s first competition was held at YU last year.  Ariella Robinson, a teacher at Flatbush, told The Jewish Press that the school’s “intention in participating in this league is to instill a sense of belonging and authenticity for our students within the world of poetry.  Since the first slam, it is our students’ confidence, passion in poetry, and attachment to a new community that has flourished immensely.”

SAR’s Zach Smart received the award for Best Free Verse Poem.  A line from his poem was not only cleverly worded, but was something to which most in the audience could relate: “going where I need to go in order to get where I want to go, I’ve quite forgotten where I am.”

The Frisch School hosted a slam poetry competition last year, and junior Tamar Palgon was the runner-up for Best Poet in this one.  Her voice sounds like an instrument, and the “wake, wake, wake” refrain in her poem had a xylophonic quality.

Roller mentioned between rounds that although what drove him to set up the Yeshiva University Poetry Slam League was to create a social community amongst the modern orthodox high schools, the greatest source of satisfaction has been his realization that there are lots of really talented poets in the Modern Orthodox high school community.

Roller’s right – these kids rocked.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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