Tuesday, January 06, 2015


by S. E. Jihad Levine (All Rights Reserved)

As the snow gently falls outside,
covering my porch steps and sidewalk,
I put on my hijab, jacket, and gloves,
preparing to go outside to shovel and salt.

Memories flood my vision from
long long ago,
when I was a kid
on a day just like this one,
when the neighborhood would be
crawling with kids.

We raced from house to house,
snow shovels slung over our small shoulders,
younger brothers and sisters trailing behind us,
trying to keep up,
lugging little bags of salt.

We kids knocked on every door in
the neighborhood
trying to get business,
even undercutting the
kids behind us
by as low as a nickel.
Ah, the competition!
What businessmen and
we were learning to be!

Moms, dads, and older folks
were waiting for us.
Adults shoveling their own snow
or snow blowers
or snow tractors
in those days
were unheard of.
Shoveling sidewalks was a kid's job.
Even the big kids would take on the
challenge of clearing driveways.

There were also fringe benefits to
the job of
shoveling snow.
After we were done and our
pay was handed to us, often
we were given hot chocolate or
warm cookies!

Oh ... when I was a kid.

When all we wanted for Hanukkah
or Christmas
was a snow shovel
so we could earn our own
money to buy those
toys and things our parents
wouldn't or couldn't buy or get for us.

Shoveling snow was the way ...

I smile, remembering,
as I go out and start shoveling.
Not a kid outside in the neighborhood
even though there's no school today.
No kids out sled riding,
Making snow men
or snow angels,
no snowball fights ...

Oh wait, there's a kid!
My neighbor's kid,
watching me shovel my walk
through the parted curtains of his
living room window,
the glare of the family's big screen TV
glows behind him.
I wave to him, but
he quickly disappears when he
realizes that he's been seen.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Bridgeway, Inc. - Community Empowerment Center

(All Images Copyright, 2014, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved -  Exclusive Permission to Use Images Only Given to Bridgeway, Inc. and Clayton (Brother Abdul-Wakeel Shabazz) Morrison)

Also on the corner of 18th and Ontario in North Philadelphia, PA, on Ontario Street, is another mural obituary.  This one belongs to Bridgeway, Inc., which is a community based empowerment center.

Bridgeway has been around since 1975.  It was started by its current executive director, Emily Rollins, who is a native of the Tioga/Nicetown area.  In the 1960s, she witnessed corporations, small businesses, and educational services leave her neighborhood, and they were replaced by violence, drugs, and crime.  Ms. Rollins started Bridgeway out of her home on 1722 West Ontario Street, and since then, Bridgeway has service over 5,000 people a year from her very doorstep.

Bridgeway provides food, transitional housing, educational, and cultural programs to this under-served community.  Ms. Rollins, now in her 80s, still answers her door and answers the call of her community.  she is also helped by a large group of dedicated volunteers that make it possible for Ms. Rollins and her Deputy Director, Yvonne Hughes, to operate Bridgeway.  Ms. Hughes is an ordained minister and President of SCOPE Education Services.  (info taken from Bridgeway's website)

As I was photographing Bridgeway's mural, their Vice President, Clayton (Brother Abdul-Wakeel Shabazz) Morrison stopped by to give me salaams and to chat with me.  It was great spending some time with him and finding out about the mural and the work that Bridgeway does.

The mural is called "The Wall of Wonder," and is dedicated to those "gone but not forgotten" in community service to Bridgeway and the community.

It's a beautiful tribute, and shows how hard people are working to create a better world and opportunities for the neighborhood.

Further details about Bridgeway's wonderful services can be obtained from their website, or you can stop by at the Center at 1722/1800 W. Ontario Street.  Their phone number is 215-226-1983.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tarif Wooden

(Note: All Images Copyright 2014 S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved)

According to Philadelphia, PA Police Department records, 350 persons were murdered in the City of Philadelphia in the year of 2003.

A few days before his 22nd birthday, on November 21, 2003, Tarif Wooden became Philadelphia's 315th homicide victim.

Police records state that Tarif died from a gunshot wound, and the official motive for his murder is simply listed as "drugs." 

On the corner of 18th and Ontario in North Philly, there's a beautiful mural dedicated to the memory of Tarif Wooden.  The mural shows a very young African-American man as he looked before somebody's gun brought him down in the prime of his life. 

Who knows what Tarif Wooden could have become or accomplished in this life had he not been murdered, or who he might have turned out to be had he straightened his life out before his lifestyle appears to have taken him out? 

What is clear, for sure, is that Tarif Wooden had a family who loved him.

And friends who loved and cared about him.

Looks like somebody named "Chick," not wanting to be left out, added his/her name later on with some black paint.

As I photograph Tarif's mural, folks walk by, slow down, and reflect on his memory.

The young man stops.  Perhaps to offer his respects?  Maybe he knew Tarif? 

One things is clear: the folks in this neighborhood will never forget Tarif Wooden.

People often forget that although some young men like Tarif (if what they claim about him is true) may have been in the "lifestyle" or that they themselves may have victimized others -- in the end, they are victims.  Victims of violence.

Despite it all, no one deserves to be murdered.

No mother, grandmother, deserves to grieve for a child cut down too soon, before he or she even gets a chance to live life to its fullest potential. 

Everyone deserves a chance to figure it out. 

Tarif Wooden never got a chance to figure it out.  He was robbed.  He was murdered and robbed.

Friday, November 08, 2013


NOVEMBER 8, 2013

Have Kim will travel ...

(Click on image to see better)

Thursday, November 07, 2013


November 7, 2013

No wudu here!!!  Ladies bathroom at Penn State University, Main Campus, State College, PA, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Eisenhower Chapel

(Click image to see better)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


NOVEMBER 6, 2013

My plan for these piles of leaves: scoop them up in the wheelbarrow and put them into my garden.  It's fenced in, so they won't blow away.  The little critters will munch them into mulch over the winter to nourish my garden soil :)

(Click on image to see it better)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


November 5, 2013

At the Post & Lintel Dance Studio, Selinsgrove, PA

(Click photo to see better)