Matters of the Heart

Samain and the Choice Moon

Sabbath gratefuls: A good heart. Dr. Rubenstein. Denver. The Brown Palace. Driving down the hill. Parsha. Jacob at the Jabbok Ford. Dvar Torah. Reading a psalm. Holding the Torah scroll. Leading the shema. Lighting the shabbat candles. Mindy’s flour-less chocolate cake. Joan and Rich. Marilyn and Irv. Tara. Alan in Cuba. Ron and Iris. Luke and Leo. Rabbi Jamie. My home, CBE. The oneg.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Holding the Torah scroll

One brief shining: Wearing my kippah in the synagogue now I went up to the ark and Rabbi Jamie took our two Torah scrolls out, handed one to me, one to Veronica, heavier than I had expected, while we held them I lead a spoken shema then Jamie and Veronica, who has a beautiful singing voice, lead a sung shema we returned the scrolls to Jamie who replaced them in the ark.


Yesterday was a heart day all the way. Left home at 7:45 to drive into and through downtown Denver to the offices of the SCL heart and vascular institute to see Dr. Rubenstein. My first visit to a cardiologist. That enlarged aorta discovered by the family practice doc in Korea. Emmie put the leads on me expertly, a baseline ekg. Took my blood pressure. Discussed my meds and my medical history. A bit later the now de rigueur knock on the door and Dr. Rubenstein entered.

That grade 1 mitral valve dysfunction? Everybody over 60 has it. The enlarged aorta. Mild. Nothing to worry about. Another echo in a year just to see if it’s expanding. If not. Probably forget about it. Keep doing what you’re doing. Your heart is fine. What I thought.

I had a question for him though. Did he ever consider the heart in the context of the Hebrew word lev? It stopped him. Not sure what you’re asking, he said. Well, we’re dealing here with the heart as an organ, but do you ever consider it as part of the heart-mind. You mean all this? He swept his hands up and down over his body. Yes.

Not in here. Here I’m focused on the organ, how it’s working. Outside of here, then I take into account the spiritual. But not here.


Then. Breakfast at Aspen Perks. Marilyn and Tara were just leaving as I was coming in. Talked to them for a bit and Marilyn offered to sit with me while I ate. We had a good conversation. Went home and finished the book God is Here. Turns out the author is into process theology. Whitehead. I mentioned this to Marilyn and she told me the story of Whitehead hall at her alma mater. 5 stories with no elevator. When she and Irv were dating, he wouldn’t follow her up to her classes on the fifth floor. Love dies on the fifth floor of Whitehead was a saying for them ever after.


That evening. A potluck, the shabbat service, the oneg. Got there a bit early to talk to Jamie. Make sure I was not included in any singing. Of which there is a lot in a Jewish service. No, I wasn’t. He had a color coded order of service that showed when Veronica and I were supposed to come up. Which he didn’t follow as it turns out.

I read his translation of a psalm, participated in lighting the shabbat candles, and held a Torah scroll as did Veronica. After the scrolls were put away and we finished leading the congregation in the shema, Jamie looked at us, indicated the congregation, and said, “Look out on your home.”

Veronica and I both did the d’var Torah, a talk or an essay based on the Torah portion for the week. Veronica talked about the conversion process while I focused on Jacob at the Jabbok Ford.

I’ll post mine when I finish writing it for Joan. She couldn’t hear all of mine. I did it extemporaneously, so I’m going to try to recover roughly what I said.

The oneg afterward included a flour-less chocolate cake Mindy offered to make for me. She’s a master baker and it was wonderful.

A lot of pats on the back, congratulatory comments. Dan Herman, past congregation president, gave me a gift of carrots pulled from his garden last week and a large prescription bottle filled with marijuana buds also from his garden. Gotta love that.

So now the conversion process itself has ended. The mikvah and the naming ceremony finished this week and an appearance as a new Jew (thanks, Alan) in a service. But. I have eight more sessions with Jamie on various aspects of Jewish life. The next one, this month, is on Jewish identity.