TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — Jews are known as the “People of the Book,” a nickname we received from the Muslims during the Middle Ages. It afforded us a certain status at that time. But in many ways, it wasn’t really accurate. The book in question, the Hebrew Bible, is certainly our book, and we are certainly of it, but there are some other ways to describe our love for literacy and spiritual wisdom that are more accurate.
My teacher, R. Daniel Bouskila, refers to us as the People of the Commentary of the Book, as a more descriptive name for what we do. We do not just read our book, but we analyze it, deconstruct it, make it relevant to our times. From the very beginning, in the Book of Numbers, we started to take the word of the Holy One and assess it and even change it. (Note in Numbers 27, the daughters of Zelophechad bring a suit to Moses to change inheritance laws so recently written. And they succeed.)
My colleague, R. Nina Perlmutter, refers to Jews as the People of the Library, because our commentary of the Book goes on in every generation, in every place, and our commentary has filled volumes and shelves and rooms, and buildings.
On June 30, North Hebrew Congregation offers us two exciting ways to experience the book and its commentary. At our 10:30 a.m. prayer service, Colorado Rabbi Birdie Becker will introduce the community to an innovative mode of torah (first Five Books of the Torah or Bible) exegesis. Rather than a sermon, she will model the new practice of Storahtelling, what is described as “a radical fusion of storytelling: Torah, contemporary performance art and traditional ritual theatre.”
Rabbi Becker is a Storahtelling “maven” (Yiddish for expert), with an artist’s eye and scholar’s mind. This is not to be missed.
After services, and a lovely lunch, the treats continue. After the Bible was codified, Jews developed the Talmud, a compendium of rabbinic and sage wisdom, stories, laws and arguments that has served us for millennia. We are blessed to have Rabbi Dr. Elijah Schochet, professor at Talmud and rabbinic studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California and the American Jewish University, author of seven books, and overall mensch bring a few pages of Talmud (in English) and his particular, caring way of interpreting it. This is an opportunity that Tahoe/Reno has not seen the likes of in years, if ever.
We invite the community to all these free events, to sample the new and the old, the traditional and the contemporary, the spiritual and the ethical, the joy of studying. If you are coming to lunch, please RSVP to Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-546-0895, ext. 3.
North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation is located at 7000 Latone Ave., Tahoe Vista. Visit www.tahoetemple.org.