The routines resumed this week and last after the hurricane at both of the schools where I teach But it was not routine, it felt changed, and charged with emotion. One emotion I think we all shared was gratefulness to be back together, and to learning and teaching. At the community college, in each all and class: “How did you fare? and your family?” was shared by all. After the extraordinary, an enormous need to reach out to those who share our lives, and shared this experience. For all there was a powerful drive to be of some help in the face of disruption. I have never been moved to offer my home to any student if they had no place to sleep before, but I did last week. I heard stories of lives swept to the waves, and homes filled with mud, and waters sweeping over the hoods of trucks of fleeing people. Teens and adults volunteering to tear down saturated sheet rock, and tend tos the elderly in shelters.
I also had the privilege of connecting with children in the Hebrew school I where I teach. I’d seen many of them cooking pasta for or sorting donations and bringing them to shelters and distribution centers the previous week when school was closed. They’d been in the midst of powerful change and responded with empathy and with action. They all had stories to tell one another about their experiences, and their neighbors. The tree that came through the living room, the cafeteria aid who died when a tree hit her car, the friend living in a hotel because their home was gone. They’d all been affected, and were reaching out to communicate with one another. You could feel a strong cohesion of share emotion and experience and clarity. So while gathered in our assembly I led them in this song, explaining that by reaching out to one another at this time they were praying, healing, giving, and forming a holy community, Kehilah kedoshah in Hebrew. The lyrics come from the Torah portion Netzavim, which begins Atem N’tzavim: “You are all standing here this day” all of us then and now, remembering that dream at Sinai, the forming of a holy community. We recreate that community by our actions of love and caring:
I began with this beautiful center of the song
It’s how we help, It’s how we give, It’s how we pray, it’s how we heal, it’s how we live.
If you are Atem, then we’re Netzavim, we stand here today, and remember the dream…Kehilah kedosha
Each one of us must play a part, each one of us heed the call, each one of us must seek the truth, each one of us is a part of it all, each on of us must remember the pain, each one of us must find the joy, each one of us EACH ONE OF US…Kehilah Kedoshah