Dayenu – or The Eleventh Plague – an alternative reading for Passover 2020


i.                   If he had mocked only the differently-abled

And not also praised the “good people,” chanting Jew Will Not Replace Us

It would have been enough


ii.                 If he had dog-whistled hate-group-conspiracy-theorists suffering white-anxiety

And not also hyped birtherism, called black kids thugs, and their mothers “low-IQ”

It would have been enough


iii.                If he had pegged Warren- Pocahontas, Clinton- Nasty, Pelosi- a Sick Puppy

And not also dubbed immigrants ‘animals,” while separating families at the border, and putting

children in cages

It would have been enough


iv.                If he had stigmatized Mexicans as rapists

And not also molested Moriah, Mindy, Jill, Jessica, Cassandra, Jennifer, Natasha, Samantha,

Lisa, Rachel, Kristin, Cathy, Karen, Ninni, Summer, Stormy, and Temple

It would have been enough


v.                  If he had boasted of grabbing women by their genitals

And not also nominated a sex offender to the Supreme Court

It would have been enough


vi.                If he had packed the Judiciary with unqualified, NRA Hand-Picked incompetents

and given them lifetime tenure

And not also played Wayne Lapierre’s lap dog, letting the gun lobby curb his pledge for “very meaningful background checks” after multiple mass mall, and school shootings

It would have been enough


vii.               If he had defrauded students at Trump University, and misused charitable funds

for his own political gain

And not also offered a quid pro quo to a Ukrainian foreign government against an American

citizen for his own political gain, and then perjured himself for his own political gain

It would have been enough


viii.              If he had labeled lies “alternative facts” and every criticism “fake news” and termed

the Press the Enemy of the People

And not also paraphrased Minister of Propaganda Goebbels, “if you repeat a lie often enough, it

becomes accepted as truth”

It would have been enough


ix.                If he had mimicked Hitler’s strategy that “broad masses of a nation … more readily

fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies

but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods”

And not also praised Putin’s “82 percent approval rating,” called Kim a “smart cookie,” cozied

up to Crown Prince Salman, “very friendly” Duterte, “Big Daddy” Xi, and “my favorite dictator”


It would have been enough


x.                  If he had turned his back on our traditional Canadian and South Korean friends

And not also threatened NATO’s 70-year alliance, and withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord

It would have been enough


xi.                If he denied global warming while gutting the EPA

And not also rolled back Obama-era laws limiting toxic emissions; allowed drilling on Native

Sacred Lands, repealed policies protecting wetlands, and defanged the Endangered Species Act

It would have been enough


xii.              If he had thrown paper towels, “these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels,” to

hurricane-ravaged Puerto Ricans while withholding disaster relief funds

And not also cut the budget for CDC and dismantled the global health security team in charge of

Pandemic Preparedness Response in spring 2018

It would have been enough


xiii.             If he had compared Covid-19 to the common flu and insisted social distancing was a

hoax while continuing to push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act

And not also crossed out Corona and called it the Chinese-virus

It would have been enough


xiv.             If he had said on national television “I don’t take responsibility at all,” and “one day

it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”

And not also continued to encourage Church gatherings on Easter Sunday, before finally

admitting in the same press conference on April 4th 2020, as I was writing this, that “there will be

a lot of death”

It would have been enough

We should have said enough

We could have cried enough

We did not do enough—


You may now all drink your second cup of wine

Richard Michelson, April 6, 2020


RICHARD MICHELSON received the 2017 National Jewish Book Award, and the 2018 Sydney Taylor Gold Medal from the Association of Jewish Libraries. His many books for children and adults have been listed among the Ten Best of the Year by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The New Yorker. His most recent poetry collection More Money than God (Pitt Poetry Series) was a finalist for the Paterson Prize. Michelson served two terms as Poet Laureate of Northampton MA where he hosts Northampton Poetry Radio.