Tools for Anti-Racism — PDFs for “Neighbors Together in Faith and Justice”
anyone is welcome to these, but they’re meant for this program.
A few recent additions to the poetry pages:
Three very different approaches, poetically and musically. Three very different explorations of Black and Jewish history and culture. And three very different perspectives on being Black and Jewish to entertain and illuminate as Black History Month comes to a close.
Some resources for exploring the Torah portion Re’eh, Deut 11:26-16:17– (Wikipedia says this is also spelled: Reeh, R’eih, or Ree). This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book.” Re’eh is next read in the Diaspora beginning with minchah, August 24 and continuing through Shabbat August 31.
Here are some background materials relating to the Torah portion Devarim, the Grateful Dead, and Shabbat Hazon. Also included are a selection from Marge Piercy’s “Nishmat” and an excerpt from Fanny Neuda’s Hours of Devotion to be included in the Shabbat morning service, August 10 at Temple Micah. Handout for August 10.
Here are the full articles excerpted in the handout:
Also attached are some notes and quotes from Yoram Hazony’s book, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture (Cambridge University Press, 2012) from the chapter, “Truth and Being in the Hebrew Bible.” He discusses a number of verses from the book of Devarim, several from the opening portion, in the process of outlining his ideas about words, objects and dualism (or, he argues, lack thereof) in the Tanakh. I prepared this PDF for discussion of this Torah portion but then decided to talk about something entirely different this week. Perhaps eventually I’ll write up the notes for the drash I decided not to give; meanwhile, here’s the PDF: “Davar and Devarim: What is a davar and when is it true or false?”
Thoughts and resources for exploring the Torah portion, Bamidbar — sometimes: Bemidbar or B’midbar — Numbers 1:1-4:20. This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book”:
A Path to Follow: From One Month
Something to Notice: God Grieves
Great Source: The Biography of Ancient Israel
See also: Bamidbar: Prayer Links
Note to those trying to follow the Gathering Sources series: Postings lagged following Shavuot. Sorry. Catching up.
Spending extra time with Psalm 30 over these last few weeks, inspires me to suggest that I want my house to reflect many of its sentiments.
Regardless of which house was originally meant by the psalmist or how the words were used and understood over the centuries, this, is my prayer, today:
Thank you, God, for lifting me out of depths of my own making,
for helping me over self-criticism and abdication of dreams,
for keeping me from adopting an enemy’s eye view of my life.
This house has seen some tranquility
and it’s seen days that seemed too much like the pit.
We’re grateful to have reached this point,
and ask Your help through the future ups and downs.
With Your help, let this house be
a place that hears crying,
welcoming expressions of truth from those who suffer,
a place of healing, working through the struggle,
and a place of joy.
This house, built and maintained by humans,
can seem pretty shaky,
but if it’s a place where the Name is recognized,
in all the varied ways God comes through the door,
maybe that mountain of strength won’t seem so far off.
— V. Spatz, 2018, based on Psalm 30
(copy left: share with attribution)
I stress that this is my prayer, today, because, while this isn’t exactly a first draft, it doesn’t yet entirely capturing what I meant to say.
9 of 30 on Psalm 30
As a National Novel Writing Month Rebel, I write each day of November while not aiming to produce a novel. This year I focus on Psalm 30 (“Thirty on Psalm 30”) in the hope that its powerful language will help us through these days of turmoil and toward something new, stronger and more joyful, as individuals and as community. Whole series (so far)
…For anyone wondering: I am writing each day in November but not necessarily posting every day. Sorry if this is confusing anyone and hope days with multiple posts, as the blog catches up with my notes, are not too annoying.
Scholarship is always changing the past.
Narratives of Genesis are tied up with historical places that carried specific meanings we will miss without some background on those ancient places.
Paul Kriwaczek. Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2010)
Contenau, Georges. Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria (NY: The Norton Library, 1966).
Babylon is a surprisingly multivalent symbol in U.S. culture and politics. Erin Runions devotes 300 pages to unpacking…
Oft-cited “biblical, historical, literary, and theological masterpiece” exploring the Babylonian Captivity through bible and history.
Stowe explores Psalm 137 in three parts: History (“…there we sat and wept…”), Memory (“If I forget thee, Jerusalem…”), and Forgetting (“O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed…”) with a strong emphasis on the psalm in music and popular culture.
“Israel’s earliest responses to earth-shaking changes were cast in the powerfully expressive language of poetry…”
The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. Jewish Studies in the Twenty-First Century. Greenspan, Frederick E., ed. (NY: NYU Press, 2008) “There has been a veritable revolution, and possibly more than one, in biblical studies over the past generation….questions have led to a dramatic reexamination of the very nature of the biblical account, including both … Continue reading The Hebrew Bible (Greenspan)
Tanakh: An Owner’s Manual: Authorship, Canonization, Masoretic Text, Exegesis, Modern Scholarship, and Pedagogy. Moshe Sokolow. (NY: Ktav, 2015). Moshe Sokolow, a professor at Yeshiva University, is unapologetic in focusing solely on orthodox scholarship. He mentions the Documentary Hypothesis only in order to explain why and how orthodox scholars responded to it. Nehama Leibowitz stands out … Continue reading Tanakh: An Owner’s Manual
In 1973, Charles Shelby Rooks floated the “untested suggestion about a possible new image” for Black Theology: that of an African Diaspora based on the Biblical story of the Babylonian Exile and the final Jewish Diaspora. It is to the end of the Biblical history of Israel that black America must look rather than to … Continue reading Diaspora Model and Black Theology
Oriental Institute sponsors excavations and surveys, operates a museum, publishes many resources, and shares materials on-line.
Many factors influence how we read any document, including — perhaps, especially — the Bible. Spending some time exploring factors that influence our own reading is an important and useful exercise. The complex, multi-faith territory of #ExploringBabylon is just one area in which a good grasp of one’s own filters can be clarifying. Here are … Continue reading Bible Readers’ Inventories
Jill K. Berry says the heart map project in her Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking was inspired by cordiform maps of the 16th Century and later. (See “Covenant and Liturgy” as well as subsequent posts.)
a tiny bit of background —
In most common maps meridians, lines of longitude, are straight. When meridians are curved, instead, the result is a “cordiform,” or heart-shaped, map. (Read more on pseudoconic projections here.)
Geo Lounge notes that such maps were used in the Renaissance era, and that this was “closely tied to the concept of inner emotions affecting the physical world.” (Citation: Jerry Brotton. A history of the world in twelve maps. New York: Viking, 2013)
Here’s a lovely contemporary example, shared with Creative Commons license:
“The world on Werner projection. 15° graticule. Imagery is a derivative of NASA’s Blue Marble summer month composite with oceans lightened to enhance legibility and contrast. Image created with the Geocart map projection software.”
Look for more on heart maps as “type your heart out” month continues.
NaBloPoMo NOTE: “A Song Every Day” signed up for National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to daily posting for the month of November. Circumstances intervened on some dates. This post is hereby declared, by way of catching up, the official post of November 6.
Ancient Jewish thought recognized seven traits of a wise person:
—Pirkei Avot [Verses, or Ethics, of the Fathers] 5:9
This translation is borrowed from the Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur
This means, Rabbi Adam Scheier said in an essay a few years back:
In other words, a wise person is not only defined by acquired knowledge. A wise person is one with whom it is easy to have a productive conversation; a wise person is thoughtful, responds on topic, is sufficiently open-minded to entertain new ideas; a wise person might even consider the possibility that he or she is wrong.
*Many translations say “older and wiser” — Hebrew is “מי שגדל ממנו בחכמה” — with some adding that the “superior one” should speak first.
**Another translation: “admit their ignorance.”
NaBloPoMo NOTE: “A Song Every Day” signed up for National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to daily posting for the month of November. Circumstances intervened on some dates. This post is hereby declared, by way of catching up, the official post of November 5.
Sandwiched in a Torah portion packed with narrative is “the war of the kings” with Lot’s capture and rescue (Gen. 14). It begins, really, with Abraham and his nephew Lot separating to avoid quarrel over land for cattle herding (Gen. 13). YHVH spoke to Abraham “after Lot had parted from him,” promising “descendants like dust of the earth,” and Abraham dwelt by the oaks of Mamre and built an altar to YHVH.
He is still living by the oaks of Mamre when the fugitive arrives to tell him that his nephew is in trouble, and Abraham sets off to rescue Lot:
And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew [ha Ivri]…”
Does Abraham’s being an “ivri” — a “crosser-over” or “one from the outside” — have anything to do with expectations about him and his response to Lot’s trouble? Why is this the first time Abraham is called by this name? Does being a Hebrew mean retainining sympathy — and a willingness to help — those on the other side?
Lech Lecha (Gen. 12:1-17:27) includes the first “say you’re my sister” incident with Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 12:10-20), the weird episode of the Abraham and the covenant of the pieces (Gen. 15:1ff), and the first installments in the tales of Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 16, 17:17-27).