Ritual Fulfilled by Rabbi Diane Elliot

For those who couldn’t make it to the Minyan’s birthday ritual of transition this past Shabbat, I just wanted to report briefly that whole day was a beautiful and amazing marking of the potential strength of the community and of support network that undergirds, surrounds, and enfolds us all. We began with a powerful (and long!) Shabbat morning service, sourced in the energy of the Torah portion Korach, which deals with a rebellion against Moses' leadership. With its magical image of the flowering of the staff of priestly leadership and its specifications for how holy service needs to unfold to keep the community alive and thriving, the teaching set a perfect tone for ruminating on the many ramifications of the community's current transition. My dear friend and AJR colleague R. Min Kantrowitz, who had flown in from Albuquerque, gave the Torah drash. Also present was R. Elisheva Beyer, ordained with me at AJR last year, who drove four hours from Reno, NV to add her gorgeous soprano voice and uplifting energy to the davenning, and then drove home right afterward to keep commitments there! The evening included a beautiful catered dinner and the ritual of transition, facilitated by Rabbi Min. The ritual included stories and blessings, both for the Minyan's 33rd birthday and for my work with the Minyan, given by co-Shomrim, Abigail Grafton and Barry Barkan and other rabbis and community leaders, including R. Burt Jacobson, R. David J. Cooper, R. Pam Baugh, and Eshet Hazon Miriam Stampfer. Shoshana Dembitz honored past leaders of the Minyan, including those who attended the very first seminar with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, which evolved into the Minyan (a number of those folks were present!), the Minyan's past rabbinic and lay leaders, as well as those who grew up in the Minyan, became rabbis, and went on to found their own communities. Music was provided by Cantor Richard Kaplan, Fran Avni, and Achi Ben-Shalom, and community member Ariel Lenchner added her strong voice in a beautiful Israeli version of Ana B'Koach. Rabbi Min then guided us into a "dance" of enfoldment, directing the community to arrange itself in four concentric moving circles, each holding a colored ribbon representing different periods of involvement with the Minyan. As people swayed in time to a niggun, I wended my way through the moving rings into the middle, carrying crystals and a yellow rose from Burt, Abi and Shoshana's garden, and wearing the gorgeous "Minnesota tallit" created for my ordination by Nancy Katz. Finally, we all merged into one large circle of community, swaying to the niggun, having left the ribbons behind on the floor like concentric rings of a tree. Min was a formidable m'saderet, helping to contain and ground the self-described "chaotic organization" of the Minyan. I attach a version of my d'var Torah for the evening. The words came out differently in the moment, but I did read the complete list of thank you's, asking the community to witness my "gratitude practice," in part so that they might understand more about the breadth and quality of support that goes into the making and maintenance of "rabbi." Perhaps 100 folks participated at some point in the day, including a number of original and former Minyan members. Unfortunately, a number of folks were out of town or unable to attend. Among those did come from some distance were long-time Minyan members Skye Pellicrow and R. Ayla Grafstein, the founding rabbi of Ruach ha-Midbar in Scottsdale, who video'd the event. Reb Leah Novick was unable to attend due to woes with her back (healing wishes are sent her way, and she sent her blessings by e-mail). R. Paul Shleffar, who was ordained with me at AJR last year, drove up directly after his son's graduation from Santa Cruz to be able to share the evening. R. Eliahu Klein, who has worked with the Minyan for a number of years and who doesn't drive on Shabbat, arrived after havdalah to offer his own special blessing. After the formal ritual Reb Ayla and Skye performed a little private blessing for me, encircling me with the energy of Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank's z"l gartl (ritual sash, now kept by Alter Shoresh Barry Barkan) and channeling his blessings through it to me. Ayla presented me with an outrageous glittering pink peacock shawl to remind me to cultivate "holy chutzpah." All in all, it was another level of "s'michah l'matah," an ordination coming from "below," to match and affirm the ordination from "above" that happened at Stephen Wise Temple last May. As we noted when the Elijah Minyan and Shir Ha-Yam honored me with a similar event last year, this is the "real" ordination, the community's mandate to serve. The only thing missing from the day were your presences. I apologize to those of you who received very late invitations and to those who received no invitation at all--everything was sent out about a month late and the lists weren't complete. But I felt all of you there with me and with us. Thanks to the many of you who called or e-mailed your congratulations. We'll continue yesterday's movement with a visioning meeting this evening, holding the intention of bringing the Minyan's legacy into viable material form. If you can, please take a moment to hold in your prayers a vision of this powerful, seminal Jewish Renewal community able to find its way, through true teshuvah and sincere commitment to practice/mitzvah, to becoming the beacon of Light and the purveyor of Divine love it was always meant to be. And also, please send continued healing prayers to Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, who is in the sh'loshim of the mourning period for her beloved husband Alan, and to our dear Steve Burt, as he continues his healing from serious injuries sustained in last week's motorcycle accident. B"H, in love and gratitude to you all, Diane