I got a lot of interesting reactions to the OCCUPY TORAH ritual at OWS. Mostly positive – but quite a few notes of rage and disgust, mostly from people who were horrified by the public unrolling of the Torah Scroll from beginning to end. One person described her reaction to the footage as ‘nausea’. Really??
Four quick notes to clarify intentions:
1. The ritual of unrolling the Torah Scroll from the beginning to the end on the day of Simchat Torah is a tradition created over two decades ago, attributed to my beloved teachar Rabbi Zalman Shechter-Shlomi, and now practiced in many communities. The intention is to celebrate the full circle of this sacred narrative, giving people the chance to really look into what Torah looks like – from within.
2. The meaning of doing this at Occupy Wall Street? Like an annual check up or tuning of the car – this is an annual check up of our sacred truths and narratives – re-viewing our contract with this scripture as a script for our lives. I wanted to focus on the words, verses and chapters that are a direct reminder to the big picture and our bottom line – TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER, social justice as the ultimate goal of the Torah. The opening of the scroll was a powerful reminder for us to pursue, continue and believe in this vision of a better world, guided by faith and/or trust in our responsibility to do so. IN GOOD WE TRUST.
Each person present got to choose one word from the Torah and have it translated back as a blessing and intention for the year – as an individual – and as a part of the bigger circle of the human community. This too was very powerful. We are able to start again from ‘in the beginning’ with true commitment to change.
3. One regret – I usually insist that all people holding the scroll will use scarves or prayer shawls – to respect the law that no hands must touch the fragile parchment. We passed some prayer shawls out before hand but were not strict on observing this and I’m sorry for that. We did however pass out bottle of PUREL before hand so that hands would be ritually cleaned… (sorry Mom..)
4. THANK YOU to Rabbi Andy Bachman and the community of CBE for lending us the sacred scroll – to all the amazing OCCUPY JUDAISM forces that made the ritual happen, all the Storah Mavens and friends who made it work, to all of you who joined in support, and to the nice cop who checked us out on the square, smiled, approved, and moved on, not before saying ‘wow – Im Jewish – this is the coolest Jewish thing I’ve ever seen.”
The journey to justice continues.