My Dear Minyan Community,
As I prepare to leave for the ALEPH Leadership Summit in Pennsylvania, a gathering of ALEPH community leaders from around the country to learn ways to infuse our communities with new and sustained vitality, and from there to drive to Rochester to ready ourselves for our wedding June 15, Burt and I want to take this opportunity to thank all who helped make our aufruf one of most memorable Shabbats of our lives.
Rabbi David Cooper and Shulamit Wise Fairman did a marvelous job of creating and holding the container of sacred space, while Fran Avni and Debbie Fier amplified the high spiritual vibrations with drum, guitar, and song. Shulamit, Reba Connell, Yakov Jaffe, and Len Fellman leyned soulfully, and Pam Gordon’s hauntingly pure renderings of niggunim during Rabbi Burt’s ahavat hesed meditation opened our hearts to the unity of sh’ma.
Burt and I felt truly blessed through the loving eloquence of Minyan shomeret and shomer, Abigail Grafton and Barry Barkan; of Rabbis David Cooper and Chaya Gusfield for Kehilla; by the holy presence of Reuven and Yehudit Goldfarb, surrounded by the mystical air of S'fat, Israel; and by all who joined your hearts to ours! What a mekhiah (a life-affirming moment) it was to be surrounded by so much loving energy. And of course the food, conjured by Marcia Brooks, nourished and delighted abundantly. Thanks to all who helped with set-up and clean-up and to all who contributed goodies, including gluten-free desserts!
It was, in fact, Marcia’s idea to create this celebration and, in retrospect, I see how important a part of our marriage preparation it was. We have moved toward this major life change in gradual stages. At each stage there have arisen particular challenges and resistances to the growth that’s trying to unfold. The old—perhaps ancient—patterns of fear and limitation rear up, grasping at our hands and throats. They tease and bludgeon, daring us to engage them, to dance with them, and ultimately to shed them, as our new, tender, and more expansive selves unfold. None of this could have happened simply between me and Burt; the special elixir of our relationship has been brewed and seasoned in the kettle of loving community.
At last Shabbat’s service, both Burt and I spoke about the haftarah portion, the famous passage near the end of the Book of Jeremiah, in which the prophet, languishing in prison and tortured by what he knows is the imminent downfall of his people, is commanded to buy the field of his relative in the presence of witnesses, fulfilling the command to secure one’s family’s holdings in dire times. “How can you demand this of me, God,” asks Jeremiah, “in the face of such disaster? The siegeworks are built up against the city; our land will be no more.” And God replies, echoing the words that Jeremiah himself has just used to describe the awesome power of the Divine: “Is anything too wondrous for Me?”
In a burning world, in a shattered world, to commit to a life of shared love, laughter, and good will; to commit to holding conflict within a larger vision of peace and wholeness—even (and especially!) between two human beings—feels to me nothing short of miraculous. Choosing to dance wildly on the lip of the abyss could be an act of unconscious foolhardiness—or a deeply mindful, courageous expression of ahavah rabah, great love. Burt and I are making the choice, like Jeremiah, to secure the land of promise, to come done on the side of life. Like Jeremiah, we are filled with wonder. I thank you, with all my soul, for being the witnesses to this marriage, the guardians of our hearts, and for helping us clear the path to our huppah.
With love and gratitude,