Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Double-Storah Spectacular: Moses in the Sky with Diamonds & Becoming Israel

By Daliya Karnofsky, Storahtelling Maven
A Double-Storah Spectacular: Moses in the Sky with Diamonds & Becoming Israel

Congregation Beth El, Sudbury, MA

This weekend Alex Wolfson, Franny Silverman, Emily Warshaw, and I had the pleasure of spending Shabbat with Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. We were prepared to learn with and enjoy our time in an uber-educated and intellectual community, highly involved in their Jewish studies, but we had no idea just exactly how much of a treat was in store.   Before Alex's and my Maven performance, "Moses in the Sky with Diamonds," on Saturday morning, we met a lively, involved, enthusiastic group of individuals with fantastic insight and a wicked sense of humor. They loved our humorous take on feminism and appreciated the questions we raised about how to take part in a democracy while still feeling our individual voices are heard.

Normally nervous for these performances, after my first line, I knew I was safe. This congregation felt like home. They were hungry for entertainment, discussion, knowledge, and a worthy forum for their astoundingly unpretentious intelligence. Sometimes our "Second Aliyah Stretch" can be a bit frightening for a community.  Faced with probing questions, Mavens are sometimes met with thoughtful or simply stunned silence.  Not at Beth El!  This time, it felt as if it could have gone on forever. The responses ran the spectrum from humorous to well thought out to just plain bizarre. Every individual was respected and cherished in this community, called by one "a cast of characters", and the acceptance was felt. We also had a lively talkback afterwards accompanied by an amazing potluck Kiddush lunch; just another symbol of this community's generosity.

That evening, after Havdallah, we took a more performative role in our production of "Becoming Israel." Again, a lively, heartfelt talkback followed with valuable input and visible emotion. Two high energy workshops completed our weekend Sunday morning, and we were off in a car weighed down once again by Beth El's love and generosity; this time in the form of the contents of their synagogue refrigerator emptied into our willing hands. We left astounded, refreshed, bathed in love and light and intellectual curiosity from this extraordinarily warm community in the middle of the coldest season. We were incredibly fortunate to have this experience, and we thank them for sharing their home and hearts with us. This kind of family is what it's all about.

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