By Emily Warshaw
Storah On The Road
I'll say it: I blog this week with a bit of hesitation. I'm going to give my rendition of what happened last Friday night when Storahtelling musicians Chana Rothman and Ronen Itzik accompanied Kabbalat Shabbat services, led by Amichai Lau-Lavie (with unending help from Jake Goodman), for Tribeca Hebrew in New York City. Let me set the stage (I do so figuratively and literally, acting as Production Coordinator for our 2nd of 4 Friday night services with the TH community): We are on the road, but at home, in downtown NYC. We are hugged together by our tent walls, but pray and sing in St. Peter's Church, the first Catholic Church ever established in Manhattan. We are guests, and we are also leaders, hosts. We welcome our 25 hours of rest by playing music past sunset. We coax the kids off of their seats in the pews to stand, to clap, to sing even if they don't know the words. We do this in the name of community building; we know we are doing something special not just by bringing the Storahtelling world and Tribeca world together, but we are honoring the Sabbath Queen. Enter: my hesitation in blogging - the secret - I worked on Shabbat (shhh!).
I plug in cables, I fiddle with sound levels, I move banners, I even open bottles of wine for Kiddush. I run around a chapel, throwing tent flaps out of the way to make volume adjustments, or to insure that the Tribeca Hebrew 2nd graders have enough cups as they lead their families through the various ritual blessings. I choose the most inconvenient time to run across the back of the chapel. Everyone's back should have been towards me. But no, they are facing me, 180 eyes readying the Sabbath Queen's entrance from the back door during L'cha Dodi, and I run across their view, carrying who knows what, to prepare for dinner. "Oh *&^$," I think, "I'm ruining their moment!" Perhaps running with my head down will make me invisible. I reach my destination and crouch down, to physically hide from them. And then I have a thought: These people, families, are pausing and reflecting on their weeks, allowing nothing to happen in this moment only waiting... for nothing... not nothing, they are waiting for Shabbat, welcoming Shabbat.
Why can't I allow myself the same moment? I stand up, I join them, their moments, and wait. They come back together as community, one that I've separated myself from because I take my work seriously and I must get the job done. But literally, at the end of the day, who will care that I moved through their stillness? I don't think they will, I don't think fellow Storahtellers will, only I care. I worked through Shabbat, and in doing so asked myself the question that I know so many have asked before me: How do I balance work with a spiritual moment? I don't know the answer, probably most people have their own, but what works for me today, or last Friday, is: I don't necessarily have to have a balance, but I am allowed to have this moment, be it 2 minutes or 24-some-odd hours. The moment I have is to pause, reflect, do nothing, and allow the Sabbath Queen to enter my mind, however fleeting the moment may be, one moment out of a week full of thousands of moment, I am allowed one. We are all allowed, asked, to take the time.
But I have to run; grape juice just spilled on the bimah.