FROM GENESIS TO BAVEL
As I write this, it has been raining on and off (mostly on) for five days, with more to come. It’s interesting that the rains began the day after we read Bereshit– Genesis–in the Torah. And the reading that comes next? Noah. The Flood. As the story goes, the earth itself–not just the people on it–were corrupt and had fallen into a pattern of violent behavior, and God decides to wipe everything out and start over. The mabul, the flood, destroys everything except for Noah and his family, and two of every living species. I often think of God’s plan here–leaving something over to build from–as making sourdough bread or yogurt; you leave some from the previous batch to act as a “starter” for the next batch.
The next “batch” is only as good as the starter, and it’s true in the case of humanity. The flood waters finally receded, the earth began to become populated again, and immediately, people got together and decided to build a tower that would reach to the sky, “to make a name for ourselves.” Needless to say, this didn’t please God in the least. As a result, God confounded their speech so one wouldn’t be able to speak to or understand another, and the area came to be called Bavel, “Babble.”
Teamwork, however, is usually a good thing, and at the Malverne Jewish Center, I’m blessed to have a “team” made up of committed congregants who make sure things run smoothly, and who support my ideas and efforts to create a warm, welcoming, heimishe atmosphere where you can “do Jewish” in a way that speaks to you. Many people join us for High Holiday Services and various programs and events, and your participation is vitally important on many levels.
Like those in Bavel, Jews don’t always speak the same language; Hebrew reading is a mystery to many, and our traditional liturgy doesn’t always speak to what’s happening in our lives now.
I believe Judaism should embrace the entire person throughout his or her entire life, and I see my role as a rabbi as helping to facilitate this, regardless of one’s level of observance, practice or background.
Countless studies have shown that people who are members of a spiritual community, who continue to learn and challenge their minds, who attend worship services regularly, and who regularly interact with others live longer and have a better quality of life. So by extension, perhaps the Malverne Jewish Center can help impact your life! I’d love to hear what role Judaism plays in your life, and how we might be able to be a part of it.
May all the rain we’ve had be a sign of wonderful things to come.
Rabbi Susan Elkodsi