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Va'etchanan 5771: "Jewish Riverdance?"

Va'etchanan 5771: "Jewish Riverdance?"
(C) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

In honor of Camp Ramah Ojai

I can't help but begin a reflection on Parashat Va'etchanan with this question: what would Moses, who begs in our week's Torah Portion to see the Israelite dream realized, make of today's Jews? 

I write these words while witnessing hundreds of joyful Jewish role models and American and Israeli staff dance and sing in a happy kind of semi-chaos of line-dances and laughter.  But while the dance steps might be called out in Hebrew, and the lyrics might be Hebrew, the melodies are Turkish, Rap, and Celtic, and the content varies between mentions of the signs of the zodiac and universal themes of love, longing, and peace. 

Would Moses have been satisfied by Jews enjoying a 'Hebrew Mighty Rumpus,' more defined by exuberance than any particular message, or would he have demanded pervasive Jewish content of every Jewish experience?  And furthermore, need today's dreams line up with Moses' to be authentically Jewish? 

But despite these questions in my heart, and despite the profounding implications involved in any conversation regarding the definition of 'Jewish Culture,' I witness the frenetic energy being happily expended by the young and less-young Jews around me, and I weep.  I sob looking at these silly happy Jewish people around me.  Somehow, despite my own few years, I feel my soul bridge an expanse of centuries and millenia, overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that we are still here, that our People can sing and dance and rap and riverdance and ask self-reflective cultural questions.  I am somehow seeing tonight's celebration as a Jewish survivor who never thought this could be real.  One day after ritual memory of Jerusalem's destructions washed over us all for Tisha Be'av, and tonight Jews break free of fear and dance.  Words cannot express my heart's gratitude to feel this way.

So, while Moses might be confused if he showed up tonight at Camp Ramah Ojai, i believe he'd also be comforted to know a dream birthed by his life's work was alive - and so inspiring to share. 

Rabbi Menachem Creditor ::

This email was sent from my phone.  Please forgive any typos.

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Sometimes, it isn't about nuance.
Sometimes it just comes down to facing the storm,
calling God out,
standing at the center of a whirlwind
holding your ground.

No cathedral is immune to agony,
no soul impervious to life itself no nation purely noble.
If it were any other way,
there would be no need for cathedrals
in the first place.

Kneel,  stand,  sit,  rise up.

To kneel is
to submit  to lower oneself  to step down  to pause.
To kneel is to call attention  to touch the Earth's face to listen to those  whose blood saturates  the very roots of our story.
To kneel is to step aside  to step outside  to invite others to come closer  to remember.
To kneel is not to stand not to stand not to stand idly by.
Speak your truth,
God damn it.

That's what God wants most of all.

Then There Will Be Enough" - A reflection on this week's #Torah Portion. #toldot #life #wisdom