Fringes March 2023: one day something very old happened again

We gathered to hold a space for two emotional realities: the constant shock of delight that is the coming of spring, and the fear and grief we all hold as we face climate disaster. Our psalms moved back and forth – reciting the glory of forsythia in bloom, facing the terror of a world under attack.

Download our liturgy here.

We listened to Claudia Schmidt’s “Fanfare for Forsythia” – listen on YouTube.

We also paused at the start of the service to acknowledge that this is the third anniversary of the last time our havurah met in person, followed by a sheheckiyatnu:

Three years ago today we gathered, just a few of us, sitting far apart, no hugging, no oneg, so much anxiety.

We could in no way know what was coming.

Had we known that was the last time we would gather together as bodies, what would our grief had been?

Had we seen the new ways we’d grow, the new people to gather with us, would that grief had been any less?

For Torah study we started in today’s parsha, and a curious line that appears in the commandment to take a census – each man over 20 must pay a half shekel as “atonement for his nefesh (person/soul),” and that this is necessary to prevent plague. (Huh? We don’t know, but taking a census has some dire consequences in Torah.) We linked that to the idea of activism as a rent we pay for living on this planet, asking “What right now is your half-shekel, what is the bare minimum fee for your soul/nefesh?” There was a veer into a discussion of how a generation of us grew up as avid recyclers, believing we were helping to save the planet, only to discover the entire consumer recycling movement was a misdirection by the bottling companies to be themselves accountable for the mess they were making.

We’re also trying out a new translation/adaptation of the body blessing that Elliott is creating, working out how phrasing will work based on letting people experience saying the words. This is the second version we’ve tried on – Fringes was always intended to be a liturgy lab, a community willing to try new words and refine them.

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