Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome Back…

by Naomi Less, Director of Education and Training 

It's become a tradition (Three times makes something a tradition, right?) that in January, Storahtelling comes to Reform Temple of Forest Hills for a family Shabbat program.  We set the stage with the religious school families and then have a beautiful service featuring a Maven program during the Torah Service.  This was my second year at Reform Temple of Forest Hills (RTFH), so I wanted to be sure we renewed and refreshed the congregation's experience.  B'shalach, the parsha in the Torah where the Hebrews flee and meet the sea, provided a great context.  Instead of featuring the journey to the sea and the famous Song of the Sea, we opened up the story at the time where there seems to be some dissension in the ranks - some doubt, fear, anxiety and lack of faith - even AFTER the great miracles of the plagues, the sea, the pillar of fire and cloud, the Hebrews (some of them) have doubts.  Their Maslow-ian needs for food and water have not been met. 

The midrashic hero Nachshon is so faithful to God he that jumps into the sea of reeds before any signs of splitting.  Nina bat Aminidav, a fictitious character who is the opposite of her super-faithful brother, Nachshon, joined us at RTFH.  Full of fear, doubt and skepticism, she led the congregation through an investigation of whether faith can change the bottom line - what's the benefit of even having faith?  Where do we see faith in our lives - how does faith serve us as human beings?  In a world where the news focuses on collapsed economies, tragic disasters, human kind senselessly attacking one another because of differing beliefs, one wonders the place of faith in our world today.  This ancient question hits close to home…

The good news is, faith is alive and well in Forest Hills Queens, Nina bat Aminidav got her food, and Storahtelling enjoyed a fresh and new experience diving into the contemporary conversation the weekly reading brought to bear.

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