Talmud Torah

Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

Friday gratefuls: Sleep. The fan. Rain. Vince. Jamie. The dead Lodgepole. Books. Storm Before the Calm. Orgovyx on the way. Juneteenth. Love. Justice. Compassion. Irv. The Ancient Brothers. A dull white Sky. Little Breeze. The Mountains with their green clothes on. Rock outcroppings. Mule Deer. Elk. Fawns and calves. The life of June 21, 2024. Sweets from Durango via Melbourne. Where it is the Winter Solstice.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Low Fire Danger-in late June

One brief shining: Opened a pocket-knife I bought when the shoe store in Evergreen went out of business, slit the tape on the box from Durango Chocolates, discovered a sealed foil bag, inside it paper shredded insulation, then two cool packs-colder than ice!-and below them a box wrapped in clear plastic announcing chocolates inside, the knife again, the box has yet more shredded paper inside covering a melt in your mouth chocolate bar, sea salt toffee, and Bear balm; a bar mitzvah present I received a day before the Winter Solstice in Melbourne where Mary sat with her computer and ordered it.


Started torah study with Rabbi Jamie yesterday. Once a month we’ll read the parsha of the week and Aviva Zornberg’s commentary. The current torah readings are in the book of Numbers. Her commentary, “Bewilderment” will be what we use for now. Jamie’s also going to share a weekly commentary he gets from Art Green, his mentor and former president of the Reconstructionist Seminary.

This is a rare privilege for me. He and I decided to continue our monthly sessions that had been focused on conversion lessons and turn them into torah study. When I was in seminary, the classes on the New Testament and the “Old Testament,” now the Tanakh for me, were my favorites. Something about studying source materials, getting to know them and their stories really well. About revelation and its history. About literature, ancient literature. About myths and legends. About adapting their meanings to the contemporary world. That fascination is still there.

If I remember, I’ll share some from our sessions.

Yesterday we discussed how to interpret God since neither of us are supernaturalists. How do we make sense of the character god’s role? Didn’t get far with that, but as I’ve thought about it since I found myself wanting to go back to Rabbi Toba Spitzer’s book, God is Here, about metaphors for god. Lowercase god is the way Rabbi Rami Shapiro differentiates the henotheistic deity of the Torah from the One who is all who is us who is becoming new right now and always.


Just a moment: Heat. Across the U.S. Across the world. High heat. Record breaking heat. Don’t hear much, except in Florida, about climate change deniers. Down there in that puzzling state DeSantis has perfected the nah nah nah nah response to Black history, queer life, and climate change. If you don’t talk about them, they’re not real. DeSantis hasn’t passed the object permanence stage of human development. That’s when babies learn that peek-a-boo’s a game, not the way things are. Poor Florida.