As a non-zionist havurah, our community was founded on the idea that all people are chosen and all land is holy. We therefore celebrate the cycles of our own natural year even as we mark the ritual cycles of an ancient, nearly-imagined homeland contained within Jewish liturgy.
In July we honor the berries coming ripe – blueberries from fields in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, raspberries from every ditch and woods’ edge in south eastern Pennsylvania. This year we did the same, while also acknowledging the grief and loss running through this year.
For Torah talk we looked at the Wilderness Itinerary contained in this parsha – that long list of “we left place A and encamped at place B, we left place B and encamped at place C” and considered what it might mean that this list of wanderings is the organizing strategy for the 5 “books” of the Torah, rather than a triumphalist story ending with the conquest of the “promised land.”
Our next service will be our yearly Friday night/erev-shabbat service, with its quite different emotional range.