08 May 2012

Fifteen Steps to the Temple

There were Fifteen Steps which led to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and on Sacred Occasions, the Priests would line the steps and sing songs of praise to pilgrims who ascended to God's House.  In planning BanG's installation, "Jacob's Ladder," we realized there are fifteen steps that lead from the corner of 8th and Garfield into the entrance to our Main Sanctuary.


A Day in Fifteen Steps

1=  Rise.  Drink Coffee.  Pray.

2=  Lament the Brewers' fate.

3=  Meet with wedding couple for last conversation before ceremony takes place in a few weeks time.

4=  Meet with mourner, plan funeral.

5=  Conduct funeral for the father of a congregant, the deceased a triumphant refugee from the Nazi onslaught, a giant in American Zionism, for whom the Hebrew language, not God, was primary to Jewish existence.  Moved beyond words to hear the son read from his father's autographed copy of Abba Kovner's poetry, valorized literary resistance.

6=  Go outside after funeral, get breath of fresh air, greet our newest Rabbi--Marc Katz--who is over the moon with excitement having just been ordained in Manhattan and returned to Brooklyn to party, sleep it off, and serve our community.

7=  Greet my favorite Brooklyn band, Spirit Family Reunion, who assemble on the steps of CBE to kick-off Sunday's Open House for our Partners in Preservation contest.  (Don't forget to vote!)

8=  Conduct baby naming for the second child of two women who I married in Prospect Park six years ago and are now members of our synagogue community.  It was the first "gay marriage" I officiated, years before it was "legal."  Now it's legal in New York.  Thank God.
8=  Return to the CBE Open House.  Cantor Josh Breitzer's energy is boundless.  The masses are beating on Deer Park Water Jugs.

9=  An African American man is now playing the saw on the steps of CBE.  Greet Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who's come to say hello, along with New York City Councilman Brad Lander.

10=  Children are banging on BanG's incredible "Jacob's Ladder" installation; the architects Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan are radiant (and so are their parents who've come to enjoy the achievement) and people from all walks of life move in and out of a building, joyously, where the words above the door evoke what's happening inside:  Mine House Shall Be An House of Prayer for All People.


11=  Head over to another mourner's home for Shiva Minyan.  A family matriarch, a gentle, beautiful soul is remembered in the midst of a community who appears lovingly to provide support.  Begin to plan wedding for granddaughter of the deceased.  Reminding and being reminded that the command to affirm life in the face of adversity is Jewish civilization's greatest achievement.

12=  Think of why it's such an honor for CBE to be consistently in the top tier of voting for the Partners in Preservation contest.  Commit to remembering this day as a perfect testimony to the message of optimism and hope we must continue to provide to a world in need of this dual obligation to affirm life.

13=  The inspiring efforts of our CBE volunteers; our uncommonly committed professional staff; the tireless work of our maintenance and security team; and the broader community, streaming in by the hundreds all day long, all ages, faiths and backgrounds, for a glimpse into what can be when people come together to celebrate and renew old narratives, writing a new chapter of our sacred community's 150 year history.

14=  Go home, eat dinner, watch "Best in Show" with the family.  Have a beer.  Laugh.

15=  Sleep.


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