The ancient Jewish farming practice that could cure your Facebook addiction

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/.premium-1.617234#

 

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The ancient Jewish farming practice that could cure your Facebook addiction
A new shmita-themed program in New York called Fallow Lab aims to help get Jews offline.

By Judy Maltz | Sep. 23, 2014 |
It’s ancient biblical law meets digital detox movement. Or, what does laying off the land have to do with kicking your Facebook habit?

Inspired by the religious practice of shmita, which requires Jewish farmers in Israel to give their fields a rest every seven years, these digital device addicts are taking on an ambitious challenge at the onset of the Torah-mandated agricultural sabbatical: living more of life offline.

They’re all participants in a new program called Fallow Lab — the brainchild of Amichai Lau-Lavie, an Israeli-born rabbinical student and performer who is also the founder of Lab/Shul, an experimental arts-driven congregation in New York City.

The program’s name is derived from the commandment, first mentioned in the Book of Exodus, to let the land lie fallow, with “shmita” coming from the Hebrew word for “release.” Along with the Jewish calendar year, this year’s sabbatical begins on Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sundown Wednesday.

For Lau-Lavie, it makes little difference that shmita is an agricultural law, or that it applies only in the Land of Israel. It’s the spirit of the law, he says, that counts.

 

Lau-Lavie in his hammock in the East Village. Photo: Naomi Less

Lau-Lavie in his hammock in the East Village. Photo: Naomi Less

“The truth is that at the end of the day shmita is not kept in the way the Torah wanted it to be kept,” says Lau-Lavie. “The sense of release is not happening, and the sense of being in tune to cycles of rest is not happening.”

Among the prime culprits, in his view, are digital devices that don’t allow modern-day folks to take a break and slow down. That’s why he decided to make the theme of his shmita-inspired yearlong program — or “journey,” as he prefers to call it — laying off the digital devices.

Every participant gets to devise his or her own plan of action for moving offline, says Lau-Lavie, with no pressure to go cold turkey.

“It is whatever you decide,” he explains. “The important thing is having both a public and private discourse on our digital use. Smartphones have been around for less than a decade, so we’re the first generation of users to this extent. There are corporate forces at play that are very much interested in turning us into lab rats that keep coming back for more rewards online, and I think it’s important to question their motives and to establish our own healthy norms of being digital users.”

Some participants in the program have decided to limit their texting. Others are going to turn their personal Facebook pages into fan pages “so they don’t get sucked in,” as Lau-Lavie puts it. And him? “As of a few months ago, there is no digitalia in my bedroom. I no longer sleep with an iPhone next to my bed — I bought an alarm clock instead. And I turn off my digital devices at least an hour a day in the middle of the day to go take a walk or go meet somebody in person instead of emailing and texting.”

Lau-Lavie says he’s decided to take the agricultural concept literally as well, taking the opportunity to clean up and rejuvenate the tiny overgrown garden behind his rented East Village apartment.

The son of Israeli diplomat Naftali Lavie and nephew of the former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Lau-Lavie is a single, openly gay man with three biological children. He’s also a rising star on the New York Jewish cultural scene. A descendant of 37 generations of rabbis, Lau-Lavie broke away from his Orthodox upbringing when he was in his early 20s, and is now studying to become ordained as a Conservative rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Fallow Lab is among dozens of shmita-themed initiatives being launched this year by progressive-minded Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. Their common goal is finding creative, modern applications for the ancient Biblical commandment, focusing less on the letter of the law and more on its messages of rest, rejuvenation, and social and environmental justice. In addition to giving the land a rest every seven years, the laws of shmita also require farmers to waive their rights to property ownership during the sabbatical and open their fields to all in need.

Lau-Lavie’s interest in digital discipline, he says, predates this shmita year. Through Reboot, a network of young Jewish thinkers committed to making ancient laws and rituals relevant for modern times, he’s been active in the National Day of Unplugging, an event that takes place every March. (Reboot has also provided some funding for Fallow Lab.)

But it was during an eight-hour walk one Shabbat last year with a good friend in San Francisco, says Lau-Lavie, that the idea finally crystallized. That friend was Nigel Savage, the founder of Hazon, an American nonprofit that urges Jews to think more deeply about their food choices and healthy, sustainable living.

“We were walking and talking and talking, and he pitched me the whole shmita concept as a socioeconomic social justice thing, and I started thinking how awesome,” recalls Lau-Lavie. “We’re literally talking about this as we’re walking barefoot in the park, and because it was Shabbat, we were both without our cellphones, and it sort of dawned on me that all the work I’ve been doing on unplugging and Shabbat as a day of digital rest can be translated effectively for people’s needs year-round.”

The decision to take up the cause was reinforced during a recent visit to Israel, which happened to coincide with the Israel-Gaza war and the increasingly toxic nature of the discourse it generated on social media. “It was a big reminder,” says Lau-Lavie, “of how conditioned we are to knee-jerk online and to lose nuance and balance.”

At the risk of treading on charged political territory, he also suggests that Israelis start thinking about shmita in the context of the ongoing land dispute with their neighbors.

“What shmita teaches us is to be thoughtful about land ownership. The Torah is basically telling us that you’re not the owners here, and every seven years, there’s a vivid reminder of that,” he observes. “The question is what is that going to do to our political discourse about land and about different kinds of land and about who lives on the land and who gets to own the land.”

When he told a prominent, yet skeptical, rabbi during his recent visit here that one of his objectives in launching Fallow Lab was to help Jews outside the country connect to Israel, the response he received was: “Tell them to move to Israel.” Lau-Lavie shot back: “That’s not gonna happen, but this is a way to bring Israel to them.”

Fallow Lab involves 12 monthly conversations based on classical Jewish sources on shmita and new texts on digital use and technology, primarily Douglas Rushkoff’s “Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age” and a new translation of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s classic “Shabbat Ha’aretz,” a book on shmita whose title means “The Sabbath of the Earth.” These conversations, which take place live in New York and are led by Lau-Lavie with guest teachers, are also accessible online through webinars, podcasts and an interactive website.

About 20 people took part in the first conversation held this week, among them a few Orthodox Jews and non-Jews.

The irony of running such a program online is not lost on Lau-Lavie, though he points out that neither shmita nor his digital take on it is about a complete rupture.

“Let’s think about how the original shmita was kept — by the farmer opening the gates to his fields so that everyone could pick,” says Lau-Lavie. “In other words, the earth is being honored and being used. Everyone just gets a break. I love the digital terrain, and I live there. We all just need to learn to live there better.”

Still No Abomination. My Imagined Bar Mitzvah Speech is back

This coming Shabbat marks 32 years since I chanted my Torah portion in an Orthodox Synagogue in Manhattan. Here is the speech I didn’t make, re-released, per popular demand.  This round goes out to all of us who want to read the coming out of the narrow place called Egypt as a reminder of coming out of all paces of frustration and fear towards more freedom and a life of flourishing. Coming out, taught my friend and teacher R. Steve Greenberg – happens every day. Coming out of Egypt happens at least once a year..

Read it in UNSCROLLED

I Am No Abomination:Rewritten Bar Mitzvah Speech, 30 years later.

http://amichai.me/i-am-no-abominationrewritten-bar-mitzvah-speech-30-years-later-word-28.html

 

April 2013.

This week marks my 44th birthday, and this week’s Torah portion, Achre Mot-Kedoshim, is the one I chanted, back in 1982, at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.

This double portion has the mixed blessing of gems such as ‘love others as yourself’ alongside the prohibitions on sexual unions that are deemed abominable- then, and often, still, now.
At age 13 I knew that something was up with my sexuality and I suspect I already knew how to name the love that was not to be named. But I can’t remember what it felt like to stand on that synagogue’s main stage, surrounded by family from all over the world, and chant the verses that suggest that I ought to be executed for the sexual choice that I may or may not have chosen,  already in my mind, blood, or heart, or DNA or whatever.
I think I was aware of some tension but had to smile and wave, bury whatever questions I had deep inside, for a few more years. And so it was.
Recently I was asked to write a personal take on this Torah portion, to be published in an unusual anthology of personal reflections on Torah, titled ‘Unscrolled’. Born out of the reboot network’s creative collective and midwifed by the tireless Roger Bennett, it will feature some interesting takes on ye old five books of Moses, due, I think to be published this coming fall.
I decided to go back to that day in 1982, and put words in my own mouth, 30 years later.
Here it is, courtesy of the editors:

Becoming a Man: My Bar Mitzvah Speech Thirty Years Later

 I grew up Orthodox in Israel. By the time of my bar mitzvah—in April 1982—I was living in New York City, a sweet kid in a polyester suit. A little on the chubby side, perhaps. My dark blond mop of hair covered a pimpled forehead.

Being Orthodox had its advantages. Chanting my bar mitzvah portion was no problem. I rattled it off with ease. The problem was the speech. There was so much I wanted to say, but my English wasn’t good enough, and anyway, my speech had been written for me by my uncle, a renowned rabbi, who gave me a tired presentation expounding on the laws of charity.

Thirty years on, I would like to think that if the choice had been mine, and I had been able to summon the courage, this is the speech I would have delivered at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.

As I write it, I imagine my forty-three-year-old self as a man in a black suit with a trim beard, standing directly behind that chubby bar mitzvah boy and visible to him alone.

Esteemed rabbis, my dear parents, family, and friends:

Shabbat Shalom.

Thank you for coming to celebrate with me on this day on which I become a man. Many of you have traveled very far to get here. My parents and I appreciate it very much.

My bar mitzvah portion, Achrei Mot, is about laws and limitations. Laws, I understand, are necessary, because without them things go wrong, and people can get hurt. The portion begins with the reminder of what had happened to the two sons of Aaron the high priest, and how they died by a “strange fire” because they did not observe the law, and were not careful enough when they entered the holy Tent of Meeting.

There are many different kinds of laws in this portion. These laws, I was taught, were given to us by God so that each of us can live a holy life, as part of a bigger, healthy society.

I started learning how to chant my Torah portion two years ago, back when we were still in Israel, from a cassette tape. I played it over and over again to memorize the verses by heart. At first, I didn’t think about what the words meant.

But over time I started paying more attention, and I began to wonder about the meaning of some of these laws, especially the ones about not seeing people naked.

There is a list, in this portion, of relatives that you are not supposed to see naked.

I figured out that “seeing someone naked” was a euphemism—a biblical way to talk about “having sex.” But I couldn’t understand why some relatives are on the list and some aren’t. And I had other questions, also, about some of the other laws.

My teacher, Rabbi Motti, didn’t want to talk about this too much. He said I’d understand when I am more grown up. When I become a man.

And I guess that day is today.

I don’t know if I’m as grown up as my teacher intended, and if I’m really already a man, but as I turn thirteen today, I think I’m just old enough to ask you all a question about these laws, and about one of them in particular that I’ve been thinking a lot about.

The room is stilled. My mother, up in the women’s balcony, is looking at me with a grave, strange look. My father, in the front row, turns to my uncle who is seated next to him and whispers something in his ear. The uncle shakes his head, confused.

After the list of relatives one is not supposed to see naked there are a few other laws that describe prohibited sexual behaviors. One of the laws forbids sex with animals. Another of the laws prohibits sexual relations between men. It’s called an abomination. And whoever does it can be punished by death.

SILENCE.

I’m sorry if this is weird, and maybe neither appropriate nor the speech you expected me to make today. But a few months ago, when we walked home from this synagogue, I asked my father what it means to be a man, and he told me that to be a man is to be honest and not be afraid of the truth.

And the truth is that I’ve been thinking a lot about this law, and it makes me afraid and ashamed to think about it and to talk about it, but it also makes me angry and confused.

I know it’s wrong to question God and the Torah, and maybe I’m too young to understand. But I don’t think that the law about abomination is fair, and I don’t think that people who break it deserve to die.

Today, you say, I am a man. But in fact I think that it already happened.

I think that I became a man almost a year ago, when I kissed for the first time, and felt like a grown-up.

I kissed another boy, a friend of mine, a friend I love.

It made us both afraid and nervous, but it didn’t feel dirty, or wrong, or like an abomination, whatever that is. It felt holy, whatever that is. It felt right.

DON’T LOOK UP. DON’T LOOK UP. My mouth is dry. My heart beats faster than it ever has. I am aware my life will never be the same again. I read on.

I am not an abomination. I don’t deserve to die because of whom I love.

You are all looking at me now, and it’s not pleasant, but I’ve held this secret, this abomination in my stomach, long enough.

If today I am a man, then on this day I tell the truth and face it, like a man. And you, who came from near and far, if you really love me, will love me still, I hope, just the way I am.

I know the Torah says it’s wrong.

I know it’s disappointing to you, my parents and siblings, relatives, friends.

But maybe the Torah does not mean what I’m feeling, because I don’t think—I don’t believe—that God thinks I am dirty, or sinning, or an abomination. Because isn’t that how God created me, in God’s own image, just the way I am?

Today I become a man, and I am who I am, with all of my questions, and doubts, and hard choices, and truths.

I think that’s what becoming a man is all about.

I want to thank you, my parents, for helping me so much in preparing for today, and for being the best parents possible. I’m sorry if I surprised you now, but I hope that you understand. Thank you to my brothers, and my sister, for coming all the way from Israel for this occasion and for always being there for me.

My family are all looking at the floor.

Thank you for listening, and for joining me on this most important day of my life.

Shabbat Shalom. 

I close the folder and dare to look up. Will somebody say something? Someone please hug me. My mother is crying. My father still stares down. Don’t hate me. Please say something.

And there I stand, thirty years later, placing a hand on my thirteen-year-old self’s shoulder and whispering, softly, “It’s going to be all right.”


Shabbat Shalom. 

 


Unscrolling: My New Weekly Torah Blog Starts Today

UNSCROLLING: A Year of Wrestling, Quoting, and Reclaiming Torah
Amichai’s New Weekly Blog (10/2013-10/2014)
This year I’m reading the weekly Torah portion through the eyes of 54 creative wrestlers   in Reboot’s new book Unscrolled. My year long journey will be blogged weekly as commentary on their commentary, quoting quotes, plucking pearls from this pool of biblically inspired juices for a more inspired now.
Week One and Two: The Saddest Road
“Guide me to write a different better story.”
Josh Radnor believes in God and jump starts this journey. But he’s not praying here to that angry scripture papa that smites and judges and alienates. 72% of American Jews believe in some sort of God or universal spirit, according to the new Pew Report released this week  – and I think more will believe and pray and feel part of something bigger if they read what Josh was writing about divinity –  wild, and loving, mystery, a moan, a father-mother mixer at the core of what we are. Not that what matters is if more people  believe in God and if more Jews know more  Torah and Jew it better. But what matters, here, to me, is the beauty of the journey, questions asked, words that tackle life’s big meaning, ancient text as pretext to the journey of our lives. If this was the case then this report would look quite different and I think one day it will. So many of us are so removed from the simple soul truths that are covered by layers of austere religion. We need to start again, from the beginning.
Radnor, a beloved brother, brave spiritual warrior, prays the first step of this year long journey: “Teach me the true meaning of the garden, the snake, the apple and the fall. Let me learn anew.”
Then fall, and flood, and crash:
“The tower crashed. After the dust cleared, the people looked around, bewildered, coughing.
They all began talking at once. It was loud and confusing.. Someone was singing a song no one had even heard before, to a melody that had no match.
I was weeping on the ground and a man walked by.
…He reached into  his pocket and unscrolled a parchment. He read it quietly for a while. Than handed it to me.
I could not read a word of it, but mostly it was just a picture of a road. A long road into an open horizon, which matched the view I saw when I looked up.
But where does it lead?
To everything.”
Aimee Bender takes on Babble – tower, topple, words gone wrong, what happens when communication crashes, quoting Andre Breton, she frames the second Torah portion and the second genesis of our human polyglot reality sending us to translate signals, seeking ways to get on the same scroll:
“Keep reminding yourself that literature is the saddest road that leads to everything.” Aimee quotes Breton, and I quote her here, traveling along the same and the saddest road, less traveled by and also full of smiles, that leads to everything, one word, one week at a time, unwinding like this giant scroll.
Join us for the journey.

MOUTH: 50th and Last Word, Sealed with a Kiss

 

WORD: A Word a Week from the World’s Best Seller. Follow the Annual Torah Re-Run Series with Amichai Lau-Lavie’s Newest Year-Long Blog. To subscribe via email click here. To listen to the audio version click here.

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A year worth of words is coming to a close as the scroll reaches the end and then begins to roll, again.  On Simchat Torah we will chant the last portion -V’Zot Ha’Bracha, before beginning again with Bereshit.

 

How many books get this much attention? How many times have we said goodbye, in tears, to Moses, before hitting play again to start the saga yet again?
Moses dies in verse 5 of chapter 34, and the next 8 verses, according to talmudic sources, were either written by Joshua, or written by Moses, in tears, describing his own death.

He dies as God kisses him on the  mouth.
But you wouldn’t know it from most English translations that render the words ‘the mouth of God’ as ‘the word of God.’

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 

But the Hebrew ‘Peh – ‘mouth’ is right there, and the legends describe this mythic moment in loving detail, quoting the erotic yearning of the Song of Songs: ‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth’. All his life Moses sought the presence, intimacy of the Divine. Again and again he implores God to meet face to face. And now, at last, his wish is fullfilled and his last breath is intake of God’s love.
We hold our breath with the author of our Torah for eight long verses of farewell and then exhale and breath out again, as the scrolls rolls back to “In the Begining” and here we go again.
This delicate drama of death and birth, the cycles of life reflected through this annual ritual. It’s breathtaking.
God’s mouth is code for words, voices, kisses, whispers, portals that let in air and let out song and story, mystery and more, always more.
The Torah is the record of the written and known, along with the ever-created commentary of our lives, our mouths. The more the better. Together, the written and the spoken, ancient and current, the Torah of Ktav and the Torah of Peh, are perpetual perfection.
Moses dies but the story lives on and on with each of us.  And here we go again. Here’s one suggestion for year long read: Reboot’s UNSCROLLED came out in print yesterday, each Torah portion another wild spin by 54 big mouths, self included.  Check it out: http://www.unscrolled.org/
Thank you for traveling with me throughout this cycle of the Torah, week by week, word by word. I hope to continue this public learning soon, through this or other sacred cycles.
A year’s worth of words comes to end, with gratitude, with wonder, sealed with a kiss.

I Am No Abomination:Rewritten Bar Mitzvah Speech, 30 years later. Word #28

WORD: A Word a Week from the World’s Best Seller. Follow the Annual Torah Re-Run Series with Amichai Lau-Lavie’s Newest Year-Long Blog. To subscribe via email click here. To listen to the audio version click here.

 

play

abomination
תועבה
This week marks my 44th birthday, and this week’s Torah portion, Achre Mot-Kedoshim, is the one I chanted, back in 1982, at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.
This double portion has the mixed blessing of gems such as ‘love others as yourself’ alongside the prohibitions on sexual unions that are deemed abominable- then, and often, still, now.
At age 13 I knew that something was up with my sexuality and I suspect I already knew how to name the love that was not to be named. But I can’t remember what it felt like to stand on that synagogue’s main stage, surrounded by family from all over the world, and chant the verses that suggest that I ought to be executed for the sexual choice that I may or may not have chosen,  already in my mind, blood, or heart, or DNA or whatever.
I think I was aware of some tension but had to smile and wave, bury whatever questions I had deep inside, for a few more years. And so it was.
Recently I was asked to write a personal take on this Torah portion, to be published in an unusual anthology of personal reflections on Torah, titled ‘Unscrolled’. Born out of the reboot network’s creative collective and midwifed by the tireless Roger Bennett, it will feature some interesting takes on ye old five books of Moses, due, I think to be published this coming fall.
I decided to go back to that day in 1982, and put words in my own mouth, 30 years later.
Here it is, courtesy of the editors:

Becoming a Man: My Bar Mitzvah Speech Thirty Years Later

 I grew up Orthodox in Israel. By the time of my bar mitzvah—in April 1982—I was living in New York City, a sweet kid in a polyester suit. A little on the chubby side, perhaps. My dark blond mop of hair covered a pimpled forehead.

Being Orthodox had its advantages. Chanting my bar mitzvah portion was no problem. I rattled it off with ease. The problem was the speech. There was so much I wanted to say, but my English wasn’t good enough, and anyway, my speech had been written for me by my uncle, a renowned rabbi, who gave me a tired presentation expounding on the laws of charity.

Thirty years on, I would like to think that if the choice had been mine, and I had been able to summon the courage, this is the speech I would have delivered at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.

As I write it, I imagine my forty-three-year-old self as a man in a black suit with a trim beard, standing directly behind that chubby bar mitzvah boy and visible to him alone.

Esteemed rabbis, my dear parents, family, and friends:

Shabbat Shalom.

Thank you for coming to celebrate with me on this day on which I become a man. Many of you have traveled very far to get here. My parents and I appreciate it very much.

My bar mitzvah portion, Achrei Mot, is about laws and limitations. Laws, I understand, are necessary, because without them things go wrong, and people can get hurt. The portion begins with the reminder of what had happened to the two sons of Aaron the high priest, and how they died by a “strange fire” because they did not observe the law, and were not careful enough when they entered the holy Tent of Meeting.

There are many different kinds of laws in this portion. These laws, I was taught, were given to us by God so that each of us can live a holy life, as part of a bigger, healthy society.

I started learning how to chant my Torah portion two years ago, back when we were still in Israel, from a cassette tape. I played it over and over again to memorize the verses by heart. At first, I didn’t think about what the words meant.

But over time I started paying more attention, and I began to wonder about the meaning of some of these laws, especially the ones about not seeing people naked.

There is a list, in this portion, of relatives that you are not supposed to see naked.

I figured out that “seeing someone naked” was a euphemism—a biblical way to talk about “having sex.” But I couldn’t understand why some relatives are on the list and some aren’t. And I had other questions, also, about some of the other laws.

My teacher, Rabbi Motti, didn’t want to talk about this too much. He said I’d understand when I am more grown up. When I become a man.

And I guess that day is today.

I don’t know if I’m as grown up as my teacher intended, and if I’m really already a man, but as I turn thirteen today, I think I’m just old enough to ask you all a question about these laws, and about one of them in particular that I’ve been thinking a lot about.

The room is stilled. My mother, up in the women’s balcony, is looking at me with a grave, strange look. My father, in the front row, turns to my uncle who is seated next to him and whispers something in his ear. The uncle shakes his head, confused.

After the list of relatives one is not supposed to see naked there are a few other laws that describe prohibited sexual behaviors. One of the laws forbids sex with animals. Another of the laws prohibits sexual relations between men. It’s called an abomination. And whoever does it can be punished by death.

SILENCE.

I’m sorry if this is weird, and maybe neither appropriate nor the speech you expected me to make today. But a few months ago, when we walked home from this synagogue, I asked my father what it means to be a man, and he told me that to be a man is to be honest and not be afraid of the truth.

And the truth is that I’ve been thinking a lot about this law, and it makes me afraid and ashamed to think about it and to talk about it, but it also makes me angry and confused.

I know it’s wrong to question God and the Torah, and maybe I’m too young to understand. But I don’t think that the law about abomination is fair, and I don’t think that people who break it deserve to die.

Today, you say, I am a man. But in fact I think that it already happened.

I think that I became a man almost a year ago, when I kissed for the first time, and felt like a grown-up.

I kissed another boy, a friend of mine, a friend I love.

It made us both afraid and nervous, but it didn’t feel dirty, or wrong, or like an abomination, whatever that is. It felt holy, whatever that is. It felt right.

DON’T LOOK UP. DON’T LOOK UP. My mouth is dry. My heart beats faster than it ever has. I am aware my life will never be the same again. I read on.

I am not an abomination. I don’t deserve to die because of whom I love.

You are all looking at me now, and it’s not pleasant, but I’ve held this secret, this abomination in my stomach, long enough.

If today I am a man, then on this day I tell the truth and face it, like a man. And you, who came from near and far, if you really love me, will love me still, I hope, just the way I am.

I know the Torah says it’s wrong.

I know it’s disappointing to you, my parents and siblings, relatives, friends.

But maybe the Torah does not mean what I’m feeling, because I don’t think—I don’t believe—that God thinks I am dirty, or sinning, or an abomination. Because isn’t that how God created me, in God’s own image, just the way I am?

Today I become a man, and I am who I am, with all of my questions, and doubts, and hard choices, and truths.

I think that’s what becoming a man is all about.

I want to thank you, my parents, for helping me so much in preparing for today, and for being the best parents possible. I’m sorry if I surprised you now, but I hope that you understand. Thank you to my brothers, and my sister, for coming all the way from Israel for this occasion and for always being there for me.

My family are all looking at the floor.

Thank you for listening, and for joining me on this most important day of my life.

Shabbat Shalom. 

I close the folder and dare to look up. Will somebody say something? Someone please hug me. My mother is crying. My father still stares down. Don’t hate me. Please say something.

And there I stand, thirty years later, placing a hand on my thirteen-year-old self’s shoulder and whispering, softly, “It’s going to be all right.”


Shabbat Shalom. 

 

Amichai Lau-Lavie
Interim Executive Director

www.storahtelling.org
Subscribe to WORD: My New Weekly Bible Blog

 

Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founder and Executive Director of Storahtelling, Inc. creating sustainable solutions for life-long Jewish Learning since 1999. storahtelling.org