Earlier this week, I was picking up my kids from school and one of them pointed to the sky and said, "Look, the moon is almost full." I looked on in shared awe at the bright light shining in the winter night sky. It feels to me that this particular full moon is overflowing with power.
This is the full moon of Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish New Year of the trees. This is the full moon of MLK Jr. Day. This is the full moon of the Women's March. This is the full moon when we recount the mythic exodus of our people as they crossed the sea in search of safety and freedom. And as if that was not enough, apparently, there will also be a total lunar eclipse on this full moon.
This week I keep thinking about cosmic crossings and interconnected liberation journeys. Earlier this afternoon a group of KT members welcomed the Delgado family into our community; we are sponsoring them as they seek asylum from El Salvador. It was an emotional, joyful arrival. They expressed an ineffable amount of gratitude and shared snippets of what sounds like an unbearably painful journey to this moment. That this is the full moon when the Delgado family arrives in Philly, in the exact parsha when we recount the mythic exodus of our people and sing of their crossing of the sea; it leaves me relatively speechless.
I am awed by our community's open hearts. To welcome this family is one of the most profound embodiments of Torah, as we are directly and repeatedly instructed to care for the sojourners in our midst.
This is also the week that the great poet Mary Oliver died. And she too was a lover of many moons. Tomorrow morning will be infused with her poetry in honor of her life and her recent death. She writes in her poem "Strawberry Moon,"
"Now the women are gathering
in smoke-filled rooms,
rough as politicians,
scrappy as club fighters.
And should anyone be surprised
if sometimes, when the white moon rises,
women want to lash out
with a cutting edge?"
For all who will be marching tomorrow, please know that I am unequivocally in solidarity with you and I am particularly grateful for the leadership of JWOC who have modeled wholeness and resistance in one breath. However you choose to embody prayer this Shabbat, whether in the streets or at Calvary, and everything in between, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.