Or at least that is what the Zohar, the central Jewish mystical text, tells us. (And for those of you who are fans of the movie “Big,” we are not talking about the similar-sounding Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine critical to the film’s plot and depicted in Westchester’s own Rye Playland.) As the High Holidays beckon, and our thoughts turn to the tumultuous year just past and the promise of the New Year that will soon be upon us, the image of our Torah having dozens of different dimensions prompts a range of emotions, not least: awe, wonder, reflection, confusion, engagement, and comfort.
In this spirit, we asked a handful of congregants who have spent extended time with WJC’s own Torah scrolls–Hazzan Ellen Arad, Rachel and Scott Aronow, Howard Lazarus, Tracey Levy, David Nanus, and Dan Rosenbaum–to respond to the question of what the Torah means to them. You will find their short essays in the pages that follow, and we hope they will serve to inform and deepen your own thoughts and experiences in the weeks ahead, including on Simchat Torah.
We are grateful to them, and to all the other congregants (and clergy) who took time to lend their resonant and insightful voices to our current issue. At the risk of highlighting just a few: Cantor Ethan Goldberg and Alison Gottsegen explore the history of “Mi-Sinai” music, and, in the process, deepen our understanding and appreciation of the notes and tunes we will each hear on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Jeremy Blachman introduces us to the “radical rabbis” who gave us our modern-day High Holiday services. Stu Seltzer, who has been blowing the Shofar at WJC for a quarter century, explains what it takes to get ready to play that critically important, high-profile gig.
Meanwhile, Spencer Wolff introduces us to Art Kaplan, who has built a community within our community through the WJC softball team that he has long led (and established a championship dynasty in the process). And Larry Thaler, WJC’s new president, invites us along as he travels back in time to trace his own Jewish journey. We close by extending a word of thanks to two talented and tireless colleagues: Katie Schlientz, our editorial services and design director, and Evan J. Schapiro, our production director. I also wish to thank Kostya Kennedy, who served as a fellow guest editor of this issue of Voices, and whose expertise, sensibility, and touch can be felt throughout.
Wishing you all a Shana Tova.
JACQUES STEINBERG, Guest Editor