Explorations of Sacred Home, Destruction and Love: Tisha b’Av and T”U b’Av

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I plan to be in the northeastern USA to teach a rabbinic seminar in July 2013. I am looking for wonderful venues and communities to run bold new community-wide programs, jointly sponsored events – relevant, compelling approaches to Tisha b’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Here is a draft to indicate some of the ideas; I am flexible about tailoring these sessions, both content and form, to the interests of the groups involved.

Dates

Shabbat Mattot-Masei, Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, 2014

Tisha b’Av: Monday evening and Tuesday, July 15-16, 2013

Toward T”U b’Av, Tuesday and/or Wednesday eve, July 16, 17

 

 

Concept

Mourning for Temples destroyed two millennia ago appears to be one of the least relevant observances of the Jewish calendar. For most people today, the highly ritualized sacrificial cult of animal offerings conducted by an inherited priestly caste is something best left behind us. In his Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides himself describes the evolution of Jewish prayer away from the Temple service toward contemplation. Some wisely emphasize the need to heal the “excess hatred”, sinat chinam to which the sages attribute the catastrophe in 70 CE – cruelty, death, enslavement, and exile of the Jewish People from our homes and land. Rarely do we face the substantive meaning of the Temple, and its destruction, and certainly not from a feminist perspective.

I propose to innovate a multi-faceted program in the summer season of Tisha b’Av . Two-thirds of the entire talmudic corpus deals with the Jerusalem Temple. Applying provocative interpretations, I engage contemporary Jewry with compelling meaning of the Temple commemorations and observances to our current lives, personal and national.

Sessions

Tisha b’Av, Session 1: The State of the Temple

In ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter, I write that the State of Israel is the contemporary miqdash-Temple – a collective sacred project of the Jewish People. This session investigates this proposal through study accompanied by evocative piyutim-liturgical poetry-songs of longing.

Tisha b’Av, Session 2: Priestess in the Temple

Most of the Temple rituals use more expensive and elaborate but similar materials, implements and vessels to a household kitchen. With reference to a provocative passage in the Zohar, this session critically explores parallels between Temple and home, public and private sacred domains, and analyzes gendered practices.

Tisha b’Av, Session 3: Holy of Holies: The Sacred Inner Enclosure

We enter deeply into the service of the Temple, its architecture, symbols, rituals, and purposes. Probing the miqdash as a replication of a woman’s body – in form and function, we also consider implications.

Tisha b’Av, Session 4: Contemporary Service: Women of the Wall

As a founder of Women of the Wall in 1988, I will share inspiring vision and theology based on 24 years of sacred service at the remnant of the miqdash, and on my book, Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink.

 

Toward T”U b’Av Text and Play: A Workshop on Love

One of the remarkable traits of the Jewish People is how we rebound from loss and mourning toward re-building. After Tisha bAv, we turn to love and passion, to the fields where women pursue their mates. After the holocaust, Jews focused on creating the State of Israel. Today, we continue to face ongoing threats and destruction. In this workshop, participants study together, interpret, and explore customs and meanings of T”U bAv. An antidote to fear and mourning, this program celebrates the festival of arousal to the joy of spirit and to falling in love with Israel, again.

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