By Jonathan Bubis
I have to say, the gig Deanna Neil and I had in Kentucky just kept on shinin’. At Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, Dee and I did a Setting the Stage/Workshop on Friday night, and a Maven on Saturday morning. On Friday we had about forty people, half of whom were from a church and had never been to a synagogue before! It seemed that the particpants were highly engaged as many of the churchgoers returned the next day to see the Maven in action. One highlight for everyone during the Maven, especially the kids, was the part where Jacob wrestled the angel. Dee and I decided to choreograph a live-action “fight” scene, interspersed with abstract, slow motion representations of Jacob’s past that come to haunt him while he is wrestling. This struggle reflected the subsequent stretch, which was all about whether or not people have the ability to change. Can we change our actions and personality? Or do our inherent natures and past experiences always creep back up on us?
This theme of confronting our past couldn’t have been more fitting for me at that moment. My whole family had just started watching family videos that had recently been converted to DVDs. In addition to providing a LOT of laughs, they were also profoundly enlightening about who my cousins and I were as children. I realized that I am still very much the same person. In some ways that is comforting, but in others it’s kind of troubling. Can I ever shake the quirks and shortcomings I’ve had since I was a kid? In the end, I found solace in the story of Jacob, who, once ashamed of his past, was able to make the changes he wanted to see for himself, and cultivate his new identity as a wrestler of God.