Shabbat Shalom ~ Noah 2022

Dear WJC Family,

When Neillah ended and we were all fed, it was time for our terrific High Holiday teen leader, Adeena Bromberg Seltzer, to head back to the city and so, I drove her to the train. On the way there I noticed that she had a really cool bag for carrying her things. It took a minute to see it, but the pattern on the outside of the bag was an abstract representation of Noah’s Ark. “Cool Noah’s Ark bag,” I said.

“Huh?” She replied

“Your bag. I really like the Noah’s Ark pattern on it. It is Noah’s Ark, but all grown up and artistic looking. Very cool.”

“Oh my God, Rabbi. I never even realized it was Noah’s Ark. I just liked the colors of the bag! That’s crazy!”

And that’s kind of how it is with Noah’s Ark, isn’t it? The story of Noah’s family and a pair of every bird and animal on the planet taking refuge from the flood has become so ubiquitous, so infantilized, so sanitized, that we barely notice the terror inducing reality of this apocalyptic parable. In the Torah, the story of Noah and his ark is no children’s tale, it is a disaster movie at best, and a horror movie at worst. Especially after the local floods of a year ago and amid the rising sea levels and frequent storms, it now seems hard to read the story as anything else.

And Noah seems to see it that way too. Among his first acts upon leaving the ark is planting a vineyard and getting into such a deeply inebriated state that it is easy for his son Ham to assault him. The Torah doesn’t know the term PTSD (before the War in Afghanistan I am not sure I did either), but Noah certainly seems to be suffering from the effects of seeing nearly all of Creation, including all humanity, washed away.

I highlight the truth about the Noah narrative not to be bleak, but to remind us that when you see something often enough, even a tale about the outrageous drowning of the entire world, we may become inured to its power. But that does not mean it is not taking its toll. And we have seen some pretty awful things over the last few years. While we may be forging ahead as if everything is okay, many of us are suffering.

In recognition of all we have been through and in many ways are still going through, we have partnered with several local houses of worship, as well as The Community Counseling Center of Larchmont Mamaroneck, to present a series of programs on Mental Health entitled, “Psychology for Everyday Life” with Alan Dienstag, Psy.D. and Katie Sawyer, Ph.D. There will be three sessions:
1) Are we OK?, December 7th at Larchmont Avenue Church
2) The Power of Acceptance, January 18th at Larchmont Temple
3) Relationship Superpowers, March 8th at WJC.

All Sessions will start at 7pm. And as always, if you would like to talk about an issue related to mental health or illness, we are here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

And of course, one great way to wade through the flood of news, negativity and disappointment is to remember that we have lots of wonderful things to celebrate! This Shabbat morning we will have a beautiful service at which we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Ari Messinger, son of Rachel and Andrew. And we will enjoy our regular beautiful services on Friday and Saturday evenings at 5:30pm. A shared, peaceful and spiritual Shabbat can go a long way to keeping us afloat and together. So…

See you in shul,

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