Family Threads Project

"If I am not for me, who is for me; and if I am (only) for myself, what am I. And if not now, when?" — Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

What is Family Threads Project? What's it About?

We all come from individual families and yet we are of one family.

Family Threads Project was created by Neal H. Brodsky, a family therapist, who believes that through reading and writing poetry individuals can connect with their family legacy and use that knowledge to move through life with a clearer path.  This project links young people with Jewish roots in Ethiopia with others around the world, providing an opportunity for these students to share creative voices to express "Who I am" in an environment where these resources and ways of thinking are not readily available.

We are rooted in the families who gave us birth. Yet we are emerging into the power of who we are as individuals. Telling your story builds direction and connection. The project is called "Family Threads" because you, as a poet, have the patience to weave your own threads into the tapestry of life as a unique contributor to the human family.

Who's Involved?

Currently there are about 8,000 people with Jewish roots in Ethiopia who live in Addis Ababa (the capital) and Gondar in the North. The majority are young people under the age of 18. There are an estimated 140,000 Israelis with Ethiopian roots and 50% are under the age of 18. This project aims to get those individuals involved in producing their own poetry and letting their voices be heard.

Students under 18 can contribute poetry immediately in the Family Threads Project Group on Power Poetry. *Note: submissions will be screened by Neal H. Brodsky (the creator of Family Threads).

What's it all Mean?

When we communicate from our hearts, we heal ourselfes. Poetry can help you answer the following questions (which can really help you know yourself better and move towards your ideal future):

Who are you?

What do you yearn for?

Who and what contributed to who you are?

Share your own Family Threads poems on Facebook and Twitter with #FamilyThreadsProject

Read one of Neal's own Family Threads poems below:


Grandpa Joe, I never met him.


He would have loved you, this Man, writing poetry in Russian.

Kiev still boiling potatoes in his blood.


In the Picture on my dresser, he stands straight in World War One uniform

Smiling with New American swagger.


Where was he when my father needed him?

Skinny Bar Mitzvah Boy quivering before the Great Grandma Bubby,

terrifying mole hairs pointing accusingly from her chin.



No Penicillin




My father says: "You would have loved him."

This man who made inkblots you could frame

And fishing tackle boxes you could get lost in.

A carpenter, a saint.


Eight years old, I rummage through the old wooden desk that was his,

at Grandma Lena's darkened apartment in the Bronx that is waiting

for the last Jew to leave. Finding only thick fountain pens that squirt ink on my hands.


So I dream of Kiev, eat steaming bowls of kasha and red borscht deeper than any blood.

I walk the empty streets of lower East Side Manhattan, listening for some sound, some sign.


I try to die of pneumonia in my forties, just like him.

Wordless, breathless, Incommunicado.


Grandpa Joe,

I am searching for the heart of this soul

Your son hoped I'd share.

Grandpa Joe, I weep the tears your boy could not shed forever.


Grandpa Joe, here is a poem for you.

Words spilled like grains of kasha

In the Russian night that is no more.