Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Counting the Omer Day 35 - 5 weeks

Today is Malchut she b'Hod - a day of majesty in a week of humility.

I subscribe to a listserve sponsored by the Shefa Network. The mission of the Shefa Network is: "To bring together dreamers from within the Conservative Movement, and to give their Dreams an audible voice." The listserve discusses the present state of the Conservative Movement and where it needs to go to survive into the future.

I haven't actively participated yet, but that is about to change. I am working on a post on the need for across the board egalitarianism, seeking an end to the misguided "big tent" theory of present day Conservative Judaism. You can read some of my thoughts on that here. As I find myself writing once again on my love/hate relationship with the Conservative Movement, I question what keeps me there. The answer always comes back to community. This week, going into this weekend, is a fine reminder of that.

Last week, my friend Katherine Hollander lost her dad. It was not a complete shock - he was in the late stages of cancer. But that doesn't stop the heartache that comes when a loved one dies. Katherine is now back from Southern California. The next three nights we will gather at her house for shiva. We will support her in the varying transitions that come with grief as comes to minyan each morning to say kaddish.

This week saw the return of a beloved morning minyan stalwart. Joe Salem has been a part of that minyan for many years. A few months ago, he was involved in a minor automobile accident which left him unharmed but nervous about driving. A proud, private man, he felt uncomfortable about asking for help, so he withdrew. He didn't answer any of our notes or calls. We were finally able to contact his son, who was also concerned about his father's mental state as he drew inward. He was able to help us convince Joe to accept our offer of rides to and from minyan. Having him back this week gave us a wholeness we had been missing. I hope it also can bring him a new lease on life.

On Sunday I will attend a celebration honoring my friend Mitzi Wilner, who turns 90 tomorrow. Mitzi survived the Holocaust using false papers identifying her as a Pole, not a Jew. She had some harrowing times, but managed not to get caught. She is the only one of her family to make it through alive. What is even more remarkable is that she made it through with her faith totally in tact. She loves going to services--the prayers touch her soul, she says. She is a proud Bat Cohen - daughter of a Cohen, and often goes up to the Torah for the Cohen aliyah.

Supporting those in grief; helping those in need; celebrating the joys of life. Those are three of the many things I get from my community--things I cherish, that keep me whole.

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