Monday, January 14, 2008

The Last Midnight, Parshat Bo at Rabbinical Training Institute

By Naomi Less

Storah On The Road

Change….seems everyone is talking about it. It's in the Presidential Race…It's in the Jewish educational national conversation…It's happening right now at JTS. This past Sunday and Monday, Amichai and I were invited to present the opening program as well as a Maven performance at the JTS's Rabbinic Training Institute at Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. Both a privilege and pleasure for me personally to humbly share the secrets of Storahtelling with colleagues from my own alma mater – people I have studied with and learned from during my tenure at the Davidson School. Amichai and I were able to share our own Storahtelling call for change – the call for a deeper understanding of our ancient texts – a call for biblical literacy in this sea of change where faith and the "old testament" is on the front page of the paper and on the docket for the election. How immediate and critically important it is for us to develop a nuanced understanding of our own texts! And we were thrilled that with the opening workshop and the Maven Torah performance on Monday morning on Parshat Bo, we were able to begin discourse with over 60 rabbis, who, along with JTS Chancellor Arnie Eisen and Rabbinical School Dean Danny Nevins, loudly echoed this call.

It's interesting that the Parsha we investigated and performed for the Maven Storahtelling performance on Monday morning was in fact Bo. Bo has a particular moment where the Egyptian servants actually request from Pharaoh to think twice about sending out the Israelites – the Pharaoh's courtiers actually make a plea to the establishment to ask for change. To petition Pharaoh, their "god-king" – could not have been easy – they had courage to speak up. The words are written clearly on the scroll as to what they said, but what tactic, what method, what tone did they use? How, today, do we challenge the 'old establishment' to both allow for and actually endorse change. On that note, we are extremely excited and eager to begin discussions with JTS after being invited by the Dean of the Rabbinical School to do work with their students. Change is definitely in the air…and Storahtelling is ready to meet it with open arms and open scrolls!

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