Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
Because it’s time to reclaim the word that defines my co-religionists and me. The derogation and hatred embedded in the word “Jew” is so deep and so old that we Jews, more often than not, self-identify as Jewish not Jew. In naming this page J-E-W, I reclaim the word even as it discomfits me. The dashes signal that space for reclamation. The dashes signal to every Jew that the spaces are ours to fill, ours to define. It is for us to imbue the word with all that Jews strive for, and were commanded to be, since Moses stood on Mount Sinai.
This Hebrew month of Elul is the final stretch before Rosh HaShanah. Jewish mystics gave us the metaphor of the Divine coming down from the heights of the heavens to walk among us, ready to meet up should we reach out. No simple endeavor this. The sound of the shofar, which is heard at each morning service during Elul, exhorts us to WAKE UP! Prepare yourself. Release your grudges. Mend your relationships. Inspect your deeds this year; resolve to do better. Reach deeply within and as far out as you can and reconnect with the Source of All Creation.
The shofar’s call is a shout out to God to remember God’s promise to our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. On their merit we pray to be written and sealed into the Book of Life for the coming year. It is layered with a lifetime of memories. It is a profound sound, eerie, potent, fillng me with equal parts hope and apprehension. Though my life hangs in the in the balance, the shofar’s sounds ground me. My life may not be in my hands, but my conduct is. My spirtual work can temper whatever might be decreed for me this year.
Here are two examples of the shofar being blown.
The first, from Jerusalem. I hope I succeeded in excising the rude commercial preceding it. The second, from PJ Library, is more explanatory and each sound and then puts it all together. What do the shofar’s sounds evoke in you?
Illustration at left, courtesy of Debra Darvick