Monday, May 9, 2016

Peace in the High Places

Oseh Shalom: Of the many blessings that Congregation B'nai Israel's Candidate Rabbi Evelyn Baz brought the community this past Shabbat, Abq Jew will focus on one:

עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם  Oseh Shalom

May the One
who makes peace in the heavens
make peace for us and all Israel
and for all who dwell on earth
and let us say Amen

עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ
 וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

"Wait a minute!" 

Abq Jew hears you exclaim. "I've been davening the various forms of the Kaddish for more than 60 years, and I've never heard the phrase "וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל" anywhere!"

Rabbi David Steinberg of Temple Israel (Duluth) quotes his teacher, Rabbi David Teutsch, who explains:
Adding the rabbinic phrase v’al kawl yoshvei tevel (and for all who dwell on earth) logically completes the concentric circles of our aspirations – our care starts with our minyan, extends to the entire Jewish people, and radiates outward from there to all who share our planet.
OK, so this additional phrase is logical. But where, Abq Jew hears you ask, did it come from? Wikipedia (what, you were expecting Saadia Gaon?) tells us:
This effort to extend the reach of Oseh Shalom to non-Jews is said to have been started by the British Liberal Jewish movement in 1967, with the introduction of v'al kol bnai Adam ("and upon all children of Adam"); these words continue to be used by some in the UK.

Abq Jew does nothing better than keep up with the times. (You can read that however you'd like.) Well, The Times. Anyway, his times - not anyone else's.

So it was that - just a few weeks ago - Abq Jew came upon, via Facebook, this video. And heard the phrase "וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל" for the first time.

WARNING! This is what happens when you daven exclusively at stodgy, old, set-in-their-ways, "traditional" Conservative shuls. You miss a lot of the fun.

The video you have just watched (you have watched it, haven't you?) shows how the Israeli group Nava Tehila brings the fun back to fundamentalism.

And who, Abq Jew hears you ask, is ... are ... whatever ... Nava Tehila?
Nava Tehila is a Jerusalem based NGO for Jewish renewal. One of our main foci is creating musical and engaging prayer spaces where people feel comfortable to come as they are. 
Nava Tehila’s musical spiritual leaders generate new prayer modalities, compose new music for prayer, and train Jewish leaders, including rabbis, cantors and students, in the art of musical and innovative prayer leading. 
The Nava Tehila leaders travel to Reform, Conservative and other communities in Israel, the US and Europe to share the ideas that have proven so successful in drawing in not only nonaffiliated Jews, but also speaking to long term members of these communities. 
Our  prayers are egalitarian and inclusive. We welcome people of other religions and "spiritual, but not religious" people who want to pray and sing with us. Our prayer is experiential because we are constantly seeking ways of connection to the Living God in each and every moment.
Jewish renewal? Foci? Experiential?
Connection to the Living God?
Not for us! We're Conservative!

Anyway, Nava Tehila is currently in the late middle of a tour of the good old US of A. Sorry, Albuquerque - we missed them. Maybe next time. However,

Sunday May 15 @ 7:30 pm
Temple Sinai (Reform) Brookline
Open to the public and free!

So back to Rabbi Evelyn Baz. When she davened Kaddish last Shabbat at B'nai Israel, she used the phrase "וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל". This instantly reconnected Abq Jew to the joy he cannot help but feel whenever he watches the Nava Tehila video.

And woke him to the possibility that Rabbi Evelyn Baz knows good stuff. And new ways of doing good stuff.

The members of B'nai Israel overwhelmingly voted to offer the position of Rabbi to Rabbi Evelyn Baz. She's thinking it over. We're hoping she says YES.

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