These can be overwhelming times. Sometimes it seems like we are bouncing between craziness, chaos and catastrophe. But it’s a new year. The Jewish New Year 5780 has arrived and from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur many Jews do the heavy lifting of reflection and atonement. It is our custom to forgive and ask for forgiveness, pray and do good and charitable deeds. We ask God to write us and those we care about into the book of life for another year. We step up. With each call of the shofar we are reminded that we can and should do more.
In services at Temple Micah, Rabbi Adam Morris asked us to consider a question during the first shofar blast. How am I restraining myself? Who is my Pharoah? Of course, he was talking about the Pharoah of Egypt who kept the Jews In bondage. But he was asking in a metaphorical way for us to consider what binds us? For the the second shofar blast, he asked us to consider how we are powerful? What can we draw on to impact our lives and the community? Finally, during the last blast, he suggested we consider what more we could do to announce our values to the world.
This resonated for me this year because I’ve embarked on a journey to connect with my neighbors. I have felt a call to live more intentionally, more creatively and more courageously. I have started this community, Bucket List Community Café, to do just that. I’ve noticed since moving into Northwest Denver that we are a group of diverse and unique neighborhoods. We live in our bubbles and I wanted, as Rabbi Mo said, to welcome the mysterious unknown other. I wanted to use my power as a journalist and writer to help build community among those who are divided by circumstances and intersections.
I was able to witness the possibilities first-hand when Rabbi Mo invited the pastors of Park Hill United Methodist Church, where Temple Micah shares space, to parade the Torah through the congregation. While Christians and Jews worship differently, we have similar fundamentals. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We are united by, among other things, the Golden Rule. I am moved when I see pastors Nathan and Angie carrying the Torah and its blessings in a show of friendship and our common humanity.
A report on NBC’s Today Show also drove the theme home. Harry Smith told a story about a woman in Dallas who is creating community through her small business, Neighbor’s Table. When she moved to her home she invited folks over and 91 people showed up. She realized people just want to be invited. Her intention is to lay out a welcome mat so people can see how similar we are to one another rather than how different. The table is a place to bring us together.
This brings me back to Bucket List Community Café. It’s a virtual space where we can get to know one another and the things that matter to us. What are the issues in our community? What are our celebrations? Where do we have fun and eat? How can we engage more in our diverse communities so that, at least locally, life doesn’t seem so crazy and chaotic? Globally and nationally it is sometimes hard to get our heads around how we can solve issues that are so big and challenging. But locally, in our neighborhoods, it seems more manageable. It is my intention to heed the call of the shofar this new year to intentionally and creatively see more, and help my neighbors to do the same. That is my more. What is yours? Shana Tova.