Sunday, November 16, 2003

Kosi Revayah

This Jews In the Woods, like the last one, had a few niggunim, melodies, that carried the currents of the experience. The niggunim that carried this year set the tone. One used only the words "Kosi Revayah," my cup overflows. Another also had only one line, "kamti ani leeftoach ledodi," I rose to open to my beloved. The third niggun that kept coming back had not words at all. Organizing the event involved a lot of shit beforehand--quite literally, I had to do a lot of negotiations related to the building's septic system"--but my role siphoned off so much incidental logistics, and allowed everyone to concentrate on creating the weekend. I could never have anticipated the form it took, because everyone who came really created it. There were impromptu yoga, meditation, and story-telling sessions, study discussions of the Zohar and other beautiful and mystical tents. People were constantly hugging and lying on top of each other in enormous piles, always singing and dancing intensely. Because I had some sort of organizing role, I got to hear most directly about what people thought of the experience, and what it meant to them, which made all the logistical logistical shit worthwhile. People told me things like "I never experienced awe until now," and "For me, every day is a shabbat like this--except it's always been alone for me, I've never been able to share it."
The prayer services weren't without their discomforts and awkward moments--possibly inextricable from any service that brings together such diverse people together, including ardent feminist egalitarians and Orthodox Jews, people from all kinds of Jewish backgrounds and experience levels. But out of that tension we built something tremendous and beautiful. We were able to recognize each other's struggles with the divine, and to learn from each other's sometimes radically different conceptions of God and religious practice. And it was that mutual embrace and openness that allowed everyone to pray passionately together.
I've never been in an environment (aside from the spring Jews In the Woods) so intimate, so filled with people intent upon loving each other and seeing each other's holiness.
I'm gushing, I know, but this is worth gushing over.
I'm back now, but I am still trembling from the experience. I may rise right off my feet and step right off the earth at any moment.