I got back last week from an interfaith clergy trip to Israel. I have a lot to share about the experience and what I learned. I must say that travelling with Christian clergy greatly enriched my experience. Christians are quicker to look for God in their travel and study. They more naturally talk the language of faith. They inspired me to think more deeply about my own relationship with God and how I talk about it.
For today, though, I want to focus on one encounter. We met with Rabbi Tamar Appelbaum, the founding Rabbi of Kehilat Zion. Kehilat Zion is an experiment to overcome some of the divisions in Jerusalem and respond to a yearning there. The congregation brings together men and women, Ashkenazi and Mizrachi Jews. There is a combination of melodies amid a traditional service.
Everyone sings. The whole room brought it. I closed my eyes and was surrounded by and in the music of the place. They are doing more than praying. They are healing themselves, giving themselves permission to dream. Tamar said something beautiful: we have to pray because prayer is where we dream. Why, she asks, was Israel the land of our dreams? Does that mean we arrive and stop dreaming?
She challenged us to redream, to imagine anew what is possible. She is answering a deep yearning to create some wholeness in a city that can feel very divided. In a place that sees great diversity and great separation, she is creating a platform of wholeness that brings together secular and religious, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi, even Jew and Arab. You can feel in the room that something special is happening.
I was impressed by her sincerity, her clarity of vision, and the spirituality that flows from her.
She said something else beautiful. Her father used to be work in a tire repair. He said when people come in to fix their broken tire, it is also their soul that is broken. And so he would fix them mint tea and sit with them and then fix their tire.
I’m guessing Rabbi Appelbaum makes a lot of mint tea.
In other words, her vision is about a yearning in the city and about healing individual souls.
I am inspired and wondering. What might that look like for us? Can we have a vision about the yearnings in Silicon Valley and about healing individual souls?
I want us to have the courage to redream prayer. I love praying and I love traditional liturgy. How can we create / further develop the kind of focused and joyous service? How can we sing more with greater intensity and joy? How can we bring ourselves into the service, expressing gratitude and yearning?
I want us to redream the way we talk about Israel. I learned a lot on this trip. I saw many aspiring to redream, to create islands of connection and love amid what can sometimes be division. We at Kol Emeth are strongly connected to Israel. Can we be a model of conversation and learning about Israel so that we can be part of redreaming, part of bringing a greater wholeness to a place that we love so deeply?
Finally, I want us to redream the way we build community. How can we create deeper friendships and connections? How can we turn outwards to the many problems in Silicon Valley that we yearn to solve? Housing issues and depression are foremost in my mind. Is there a way we at Kol Emeth can move the dial, can be a place that helps to nurture those deep wounds in our community?
We are about to enter a time of wandering, away from our home. I would love us to use that time to create conversations about these three topics and see how we redream Kol Emeth and its role in Silicon Valley. I dream of a return to a promised land of a new facility hand in hand with a renewed vision of our role inside our new building and in the region.
Pastor Kaloma Smith of AME Zion University, who came with me on the trip, said that miracles are when people plant seeds and God causes them to grow beyond our expectations. Let us dream together, let us plant seeds together, and let us discover how they can bear fruit with God’s help beyond our wildest expectations.
Rabbi David Booth