Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What interfaith High Holiday services look like

Thanks to Suzan Katzmiller, like me a member of the Interfaith Families Project, I'm able to share an account of the beautiful interfaith Rosh Hashanah services held last week. (Thanks to childcare and work, I couldn't go. But I was there in spirit.) It beautifully wove the traditional elements of the Rosh Hashanah service with Cat Stevens and The Byrds. A High Holy Day indeed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sabbaths on the Moon

This year's theme for the Interfaith Families Project is "sabbaths"; the value of taking time off from our daily routines to acknowledge our fortune and connect us with our world. But, we learned today, "out of this world" experiences aren't excluded from Sabbaths either. Our spiritual advisor, Rev. Julia Jarvis, shared with us a dream she had recently. In it, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong had written a message in the sky: "Don't forget to breathe."

I'm sure when Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, and Armstrong was the first human being to walk on the moon, that they did have to remind themselves to breathe. But on at least two of the moon missions--Apollo 8, which orbited the moon at Christmas 1968, and Apollo 11, which first landed on the moon a little more than six months later, the astronauts actually created sacred spaces within their spacecraft.

The Apollo 8 crew read the Creation story
from Genesis while in lunar orbit...
The first example is better known. On Christmas Eve 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders) made an historic TV broadcast in which they read the Creation story from Genesis. Watching it on YouTube this afternoon, it still raised goosebumps.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a well-known atheist activist at the time, had brought a lawsuit following the Genesis reading. So when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Buzz Aldrin gave himself communion aboard the lunar module after offering following suggestion to those listening on the ground:

...and Buzz Aldrin took communion on the
lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission.
I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.

In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we think about, among other things, how to keep the sacred in our lives, I'm touched by these explorer's simple efforts to create spaces for the sacred-- that could accomodate faiths in addition to their own. I also can't help but be affected by the way that they were moved to do so when their experiences simply defied words.

L'Shanah Tovah. And may we be inspired by these otherworldly Sabbaths.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shanah Tovah!

Apples and honey: the traditional treat eaten on Rosh Hashanah
to express the hope that the new year will be sweet.
L'Shanah Tovah--Happy New Year!

Forces beyond my control again conspired to keep me away from Rosh Hashanah services again tonight. Which is a shame. The Interfaith Families Project is putting on its own Rosh Hashanah service for the first time tonight. They have brought so much to my family's life and I am thrilled to be involved with them. (Check out the article in today's Washington Post about some other families like mine that are worship with IFFP.) But I celebrated with my family with the traditional apples and honey, spent some time with the kids as they painted. All in all, it was a good way to mark the beginning of the Jewish year.

Being in an interfaith family, I think often about Rosh Hashanah and its meaning. I like the idea of a "birthday" or literally "head of the year," as the Hebrew name for the holiday means. I've never really marked years on January 1st, or on my birthday. Rosh Hashanah has been much more of a signpost of the beginning of things for me. It's when the school year started, and when the jobs I had been in still felt fresh and new. The idea of taking stock was always very appealing to me. And, as Joseph Campbell tells us, the theme of rebirth and renewal at the beginning of the year is a most ancient one.

Traditionally, the Jewish New Year marks the number of years since the Creation. So I hope that the year 5771 brings greater understanding among people of different faiths (Jewish, Christian and Muslim); that our society nurses itself closer to economic and social health; and that we all stay safe, happy and healthy. That's my hope. May it be a year as sweet as the apples and honey that we shared tonight.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Review of Custom Eula

Rockin' bag!

By Ska Man from Washington, DC on 9/3/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Rugged, Lightweight, Comfortable, Adjustable, Lots of Storage, Stylish

Cons: No key cord

Best Uses: Not Just Biking

Describe Yourself: Office Professional, Busy Dad with Much Stuff

Primary use: Personal

Was this a gift?: No

I bought this bag for use on the weekend to carry keys, camera, shades, journal, etc. I already have a basic black Timbuk2 messenger that I use for work. My new custom Eula is ab fab. The only thing "missing" is the key cord that's in the big messenger but I'm otherwise thrilled. My stuff is out of my pockets. I don't have to be searching through them to find my keys any more.