Dear Lab/Shul Friends,
Today is the official post High Holy Day season. It’s been a packed two months of prepping and praying, blogging and singing; conversations about silence and activism, love and re:love, our role in public and private racism, and what it means to have the chance to restart our lives, again, for good. Thank you all for showing up, for sharing feedback, for generously loving and supporting us in so many ways. Our survey and pledge lines are still open…
This past Sunday we held our annual Unscrolled event, wrapping up the season by coming full circle, letting the old Torah Scroll give us new insights into what we may want to remember in the year ahead.
We got five words, randomly chosen from the wide open scroll, and I want to share this “oracular” gift with the rest of the community:
Love, Truth, Other, Good, One.
It really is quite profound when you stop to put these five together. Here’s how it came about:
We unscrolled the sacred scroll and stood in a big circle – about 75 of us, all ages, old and new Lab/Shul friends, gathered at the Manny Cantor Center in the Lower East Side. I went around the scroll-circle and, using a lulav, picked at random a single word/verse from each of the five books.
In Genesis 34:3 we found the tale of Dina, Jacob’s daughter, whose love affair or possible rape with a local boy ended up badly and bloody for both families and their futures. The verse that came up spoke of the love that the Canaanite boy had for this Hebrew girl, and how sometimes love can become lethal and toxic. We took from this a reminder to rise up to love that offers dignity, insists on consent, and triumphs beyond borders to repair a world so torn by hate.
From Exodus 25:7 we got the reminder that the High Priest, Aaron, wore a special truth-telling oracle on his chest, adorned with twelve gem stones. This “Ephod,” now long gone, gave us the gift of Truth – and how to demand it from our leaders, both civic and spiritual. The oracle on Aaron’s heart reminds us of the truth we all know deep within our own hearts.
Leviticus 19:18 gave us the golden rule: “Love Others As You Love Yourself.” And then again in the same chapter, “Love the immigrant, the stranger, for you too were once a refugee.”
In Numbers 24:5 we met Balaam, the one-eyed prophet hired to curse the people Israel but who found instead such a quality of goodness in their midst that he simply had to sing their praises. How do we go from negative to positive, from curse to blessing, each and every day? “Your tents are beautiful, Israel,” we sang together – vowing to look at the glass half-full in each and every interaction.
And finally, the Book of Words and Things, Deuteronomy 6:4, which gave us our mega one-liner, our sacred bumper sticker. By chanting it together, we were all reminded to strive for alignment, to find unity, to commit to the one love that binds us. We sang the S’hma.
Love, Truth, Other, Good, One.
With this mantra we thank you all for joining us to re:love and are so excited to continue this year’s journey together.
See you soon – at Lab/Shul.
Photo Credit – http://www.jenniferleephotography.com/ – BIG thanks Jen!