Lead Wings

Perched in a high branch of her favorite tree, Icarus watched nervously as her father spent another afternoon gazing restlessly out across the sea. “Going home” was all he talked about these days, but she had only been three years old when they went into exile; this island was the only home she could remember. When he started to build the wings, she tried everything she could think of to stop him. Pretending frivolity, she ran through his neat piles of feathers, trying to scatter them, waste them, make them useless. He always found more, though. Of course he did, the island was lousy with birds. Stupid. Wax must surely be in short supply, though, she thought. She stole away as much as she could from his stores, sculpting clever statues and feigning innocence as she presented them to him proudly. He only shook his head and chuckled indulgently, then hiked back out to the trees to scrape off some more. She considered setting fire to the wings while he slept, but she couldn’t quit

D'var Torah on the ritual of the Sotah (for my Bat Mitzvah)

The verses of Numbers 5:11-31 are by far the most disturbing of Parsha Naso. They contain descriptions of a ritual which humiliates women and highlights their relative lack of agency in the ancient world. Nonetheless, I believe that it is our duty as Jews to wrestle with all that we have inherited and not pretend away the complexities in our sacred texts. Perhaps we can learn something from its shortcomings. You can read them here , if you like, but my d'var Torah, below, probably makes enough sense even if you can't. ----- During the Israelites’ last few months in Egypt, they knew something had to change.  They feared for their wellbeing, for their lives, for their children, and they called out to God to save them. Then they brought chaos into the streets. They destroyed the businesses and looted the homes of their oppressors before fleeing with Moses, out of bondage and subjugation, into an unknown wilderness.  Much of what we read in Torah post-exodus is thei

On Devarim, for Simchat Torah

Every time I experience a major shift in my life, I see my entire history with new eyes. I understand the events of my past as precursors to this moment, in ways I couldn’t have done before this moment, and so I tweak the story of my life, just a little. Over the course of the past few years, the story of my life as a seminary student went like this: I’m here to get credentialed as a religious professional. I’m here to unlearn the damaging theologies of my childhood. I’m here to learn how to be a scholar. Erm, I actually have no idea what I’m doing here. It’s only now that I’ve graduated that I can look back on the entire arc of my experience and tell you a new story I didn’t know before: I went to a Christian seminary in order to discover and ultimately convert to Judaism. This new story doesn’t overwrite the others—I’m still going to do some kind of religious or scholarly work, probably—but it gives the old stories new flavor and more nuance. The book of Deuteronomy is a sim

I Am the Possibility of Teshuvah

...Now you must void yourself of injuries, insults, incursions. Go with empty hands to those you have hurt and make amends. It is not too late. It is early and about to grow. Now is the time to do what you know you must and have feared to begin. Your face is dark too as you turn inward to face yourself, the hidden twin of all you must grow to be. Forgive the dead year. Forgive yourself. What will be wants to push through your fingers... --Marge Piercy, from "The Head of the Year" On September 19, 2018, I woke up thirsty. Even though I hadn’t had anything to drink since right before sunset, I only sipped enough water that morning to swallow some Excedrin. I knew that without my morning coffee, I would quickly develop a headache if I didn’t proactively take some medicine, and this was not considered breaking the fast. It was the morning of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. The idea of earning Divine forgiveness for my sins through self-punis

Tarot for Lent: Ash Wednesday

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” ...Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.  ~Matthew 3:1-2,4 On this Ash Wednesday, we hear John the Baptist, the straight-talking Chariot, reminding us: From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return. Like the swords perched above the lamb on the Four of Swords, those words may seem menacing. But you can channel that lamb's inner peace... Remember where you came from. Like the tree on the Six of Cups, your ashy roots are also contain the rainbow of Divine Love. Live inside that love now as you (repent of your inaction) turn your face toward justice, (believe in the good news) envision a better world, and act with kindness to manifest it. This  life is a fleeting, magical, liminal space between two eternal ashy existences. In it, you’re alive like Temperance

Defined by story

“It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” —Patrick Rothfuss,  The Name of the Wind I have lots of stories in my head, about who I am, what I’ve done, what my life and its constituent pieces mean. Every one of my three (so far) tattoos has a story attached, but the one I will not always tell when strangers ask “what the tattoo means” is the story of my first tattoo.  It’s a story that started out with one (complex) meaning, andnhas taken on new shades as I’ve grown. My stories define me, I define them, and the dialectic circle goes ‘round. That’s actually a really core piece of my theology—we have to keep telling our stories, but can’t ever let them get stuck. When we do that, we’re lost. It’s part of why the liturgical year means so much to me, and why I keep returning to the Bible again and again, even though I no longer believe about it what I

Ways of Knowing: Advent, Tarot, and the Moon

I feel, so often, that my self is kind of a strange dichotomy. I am in seminary, currently on a path toward Christian ordination. The rhythms of the liturgical year are etched deeply in my soul, and right now it's Advent, the Christian pre-Christmas season of darkness, preparation and waiting. Yet the rhythms of the earth & sky are embedded in me just as deeply, and the Winter Solstice means even more to me spiritually than Christmas does. I'm pretty sure both of these attachments and longings point toward a mystical core deep inside of me that's been papered over and stepped on and plastered and bricked up by the rationalistic-logical world of patriarchy. But layer by layer, I'm unearthing her. Through connections I've made in seminary and outside of it, in spiritually-oriented women's circles, I've begun to embrace a femme epistemology. Femme is a kind of queer femininity, and epistemology means a way of knowing and learning. It means I am turning to