2018-04-09

The Day After PV 2018

Beauty, Light and Dancing with the Divine Feminine


2018-03-10

Registration and Agreements for Passover Village 2018

Dear Friends,

Registration for Passover Village 2018 is now OPEN!

This email has information for registration but not everything else.  Please also visit: http://passovervillage.blogspot.com for other Passover Village info.

LOCATION
This year we will be returning to the spectacular group camps in Joshua Tree National Monument.  Exact location and directions will be provided with registration confirmation.

DATES
9 AM Friday April 6, 2018 through Noon Sunday April 8, 2018

Come Early:
Camp is available to us as early as 3:00 pm Wednesday, April 4th.  Otherwise, plan to arrive by 8:00 am Friday at the latest to set-up your personal camp and join the opening circle at 9:00 am.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION: 
Send the following (required):
1.  * Payment (requested contribution is $90/adult or child 13-and-over; children 12-and-under free! *
2.  The name, phone number, and email address of each adult being registered
3.  The name and ages of any children aged 17-and-under, and the name of the adult registrant who will be responsible for each child.
4.  The number and description of vehicles.
5.  The day, date and time you plan to arrive.
6.  Contribution to Scholarship Fund (optional)

* We ask that payment be made via PayPal https://www.paypal.com/us/home           
There is no charge for a PayPal account.  You can use your bank account for                  
free or a credit card for only a $.33 fee (less than a stamp!) and send your                             
contribution to the PayPal account passovervillage@gmail.com                                                      

If you must, send a check payable to:
Larry Richard (m: 310-560-6004)
2118 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 594
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Must be received by March 1, 2018 to confirm your space.
* Includes all camping fees and delicious, catered Seder meal.
* Genuine financial hardship should not keep you from attending.  Please let us know how you can contribute.
* Volunteers Needed:  (1) help loading gear in Culver City on Tue April 3rd, (2) transporting to and from camp, (3) unloading gear on Sun April 8th

PASSOVER VILLAGE AGREEMENTS: 
We agree to respect and care for ourselves, each other, the community and the land. To safeguard the freedom and sanctity of time and space in the Passover Village, the Leadership Council has endeavored to balance the needs of individuals with those of the community. To that end, the following updates are effective with Passover Village 2013.

By registering for this retreat, attendees also agree to the following:

Photography and Recordings:
Please:
-- When we are gathered In Community with a common focus, or "In Session," put away cameras and recording devices.
-- When we are not gathered as a focused community, having lunch, talking with others, etc., photos and recording are allowed within bounds of respect, privacy and permission: Be discrete, non-intrusive, and respectful of all participants when taking any photographs or recording; some may prefer not to be photographed or recorded at all.
-- Do not publish photos or recordings in public media
-- If unsure about a photo or recording, do not take or publish it.
Personal Displays and Self Promotion: 
In the spirit of a retreat, so that we might leave behind the things of the day to day world, please do not bring personal displays or promotional items into community areas.
Thank you!


Kavannah 2018

As in years past, we carry an additional kavannah (spiritual intention) into the Village, borne from our yearlong study since last PV  of the Divine Feminine in the Hebrew tradition.   We call Her by many names:  Asherah . . .Astarte . . .  Anat . . . Shechinah . . . Lilit . . . Sarah . . . Miriam.  What do these images, ideas, and archetypes have to teach us in this age of #metoo and #timesup?  In these times, what are we to make of the Zohar legend of the exile of Shechinah and her longing for union with HaKadosh Baruch Hu?   What have the ancients passed on to us in their Yichudim  prayers of unification of Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine?  What does it mean to honor the Feminine in Nature, the Great Mother, to offer ecstatic prayers to the Queen of  the Heavens while dancing around a tree?  Is this not also our Hebrew tradition?  Why has none of this been passed down through Torah, Talmud, Hebrew school?  Was the Feminine deliberately suppressed in our tradition, a reflection of the shift from matriarchal traditions to patriarchy that was happening in the ancient world at the age of formation of Judaism?  What traumas have been perpetuated because of this?  How have modern day women suffered from this?  Modern day men?  How can we reclaim our connection to Her, and does She want to be reclaimed?  

All of these topics are in the field, as we gather and enter our holy campground for another season of praise and community.  Moses asked Pharoah to allow the people to go out to the wilderness to serve their God for 3 days, and so we do the same. We hope you will joyfully join us this year in our councils, dances, rituals, and prayers as we seek relation with Her.  


CARPOOLING

This is strongly encouraged and a great way to start the Village before you arrive.  Parking onsite is very limited.  Let us know if you need or can offer a ride. 

SHARING THE BURDEN, LIGHTENING THE LOAD
If you find you will be traveling alone, please consider offering to partner with another Passover Villager to share driving, camp set-up and meals.  If you are strong, please share.  If you are not so strong, please ask for help.  

ACCESSIBILITY: The campground is accessible via road. The outhouses meet ADA requirements for accessibility. Most of the campsite is sandy or loose soil, making wheelchair mobility difficult. But as during our exodus from Egypt, when the infirm and disabled were carried, we will accommodate special needs.

PARKING
Parking is limited in the group site parking lot.  

Overflow parking is available a short drive away and shuttle rides back to camp can be arranged as needed.  RV parking is restricted by size (25’ max) as well as total number of all vehicles.

CAMPSITE DETAILS
* Our secluded group site is nestled within a 100’ surround of the enigmatic and evocative boulders of Joshua Tree 
* We do not have running water however community water supply and personal water containers can be filled for free at the ranger station about one mile away
* Multiple picnic tables and a community barbecue pit  
* Two pit toilets in weather-protected brick building
There are sites for individual tents scattered throughout the group site.
* This is a family-friendly site, however it is in the National Park and precautions are advised against the elements and around prickly shrubs.
* This site is a 2-3 hour drive from the Los Angeles area. Motels or B&B accommodations can be found in nearby Twentynine Palms if you cannot camp.
* Exact location and directions will be provided after registration.  Please don't plan to "just drop by."
* Visit https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm for complete National Park Service details
We hope there is enough information provided here but if you have any questions, call or write at your earliest opportunity!
See you soon,
Dan
C 310-396-0706


DATES AND TIMES: 


The 2018 Passover Village Retreat  

9 AM Friday, April 6th through 11 AM Sunday, April 8th.


Ideally, arrive as early as Wednesday or Thursday, April 4th or 5th in time to set up your personal campsite and enjoy a relaxed afternoon and evening or more of rest and fellowship and "Village-making."  Allow 2 hours minimum travel time by car from Los Angeles; arrival before dark will simplify campsite setup (very dark by 8 pm on these dates).

If you cannot arrive on Wednesday or Thursday, arrive early enough (7 or 7:30 am) on Friday morning to set up your personal campsite and join the Opening Council at 9:00 am.



LOCATION: This year we will be returning to iconic and enigmatic Joshua Tree.  We will gather in community, embraced by a magnificent amphitheater of boulders rising 100 feet above our two group camp sites.  Exact location and directions will be provided upon registration. 


CAMPING AND ACCOMMODATIONS:


* As mentioned above, our group site has running water in the kitchen area. 

* Multiple picnic tables and a community barbecue pit  

* Pit toilet in a weather-protected brick building

There are sites for individual tents scattered throughout the group site.

* This is a family-friendly site, however it is in the National Forest and precautions are advised for the occasional bear (not as likely during our busy season, but possible).

* As mentioned above, this site is NOT a very short drive from stores, motels or B&B accommodations.  While these are available in La Canada/Flintridge, note that each trip to or from the Village site will require a 45-minute drive each way and is not recommended.

* Exact location and directions will be provided after registration.  Please don't plan to "just drop by."


ACCESSIBILITY: The campground is accessible via road. The outhouses meet ADA requirements for accessibility. Most of the campsite is sandy or loose soil, making wheelchair mobility difficult. But as during our exodus from Egypt, when the infirm and disabled were carried, we will accommodate special needs.

Friday Night: An outreach to Villagers who might like to coordinate a Shabbat meal and/or service will be forthcoming.

Saturday Night: Catered Seder meal


Other Meals and Snacks: Bring food and kitchen/cooking items for your own enjoyment. (Meal-time sharing is encouraged.)


LEADERSHIP:
Throughout the year, a Leadership Council -- with help and input from other community members -- keeps alive the spirit of Passover Village and plans and organizes our gatherings. Members of the Leadership Council have taken on facilitation of various aspects of Passover Village (with some others' tasks to be decided):
  • Marc Weigensberg
  • Tobi Fishel
  • Dan Brumer
  • Laurie Burton
  • Michael Chusid
  • Sandra Goodman
  • Larry Richard
  • Avram Wagman
  • Chaim Pittle
  • Rina Daly-Goode
  • Shoshana Wheeler
VOLUNTEERING: It takes a village to make a village. Will you help organize or lead…?:

Baking matzah
Making haroset
Assembling the Seder plate
Bringing music, song, and ruach (spirit)
Preparing a teaching, creative activity, or ritual
Planning a meditation walk
Mentoring our "young warriors" or engaging with Village Kids
Bringing the fruit of the vine
Leading part of Seder
Repairing tent
or whatever your calling.

The Passover Village will offer a chance to immerse and spend time in these ancient forms as we recreate aspects of the Exodus, celebrate community and share in the traditional "non-traditional, expanded, experimental, enhanced and engaging Passover Village Seder!"  We invite you to revisit the excellent study notes posted by Marc throughout the year to begin your Passover Village experience right away!    You will find them elsewhere in the blog pages.

MORE INFO AND TO VOLUNTEER:
Michael (818) 219-4937
Larry (310) 560-6004
Dan 310-396-0706



NOTICE: Outdoors activities and camping are inherently dangerous. By participating you agree to accept all risks to yourself and property, and to hold harmless the organizers of and participants in Passover Village.

Revised 2015-02-19 Dan B.

Kavannah 2018

Kavannah 2018

As in years past, we carry an additional kavannah (spiritual intention) into the Village, borne from our yearlong study since last PV  of the Divine Feminine in the Hebrew tradition.   We call Her by many names:  Asherah . . .Astarte . . .  Anat . . . Shechinah . . . Lilit . . . Sarah . . . Miriam.  What do these images, ideas, and archetypes have to teach us in this age of #metoo and #timesup?  In these times, what are we to make of the Zohar legend of the exile of Shechinah and her longing for union with HaKadosh Baruch Hu?   What have the ancients passed on to us in their Yichudim prayers of unification of Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine?  What does it mean to honor the Feminine in Nature, the Great Mother, to offer ecstatic prayers to the Queen of  the Heavens while dancing around a tree?  Is this not also our Hebrew tradition?  Why has none of this been passed down through Torah, Talmud, Hebrew school?  Was the Feminine deliberately suppressed in our tradition, a reflection of the shift from matriarchal traditions to patriarchy that was happening in the ancient world at the age of formation of Judaism?  What traumas have been perpetuated because of this?  How have modern day women suffered from this?  Modern day men?  How can we reclaim our connection to Her, and does She want to be reclaimed? 

All of these topics are in the field, as we gather and enter our holy campground for another season of praise and community.  Moses asked Pharoah to allow the people to go out to the wilderness to serve their God for 3 days, and so we do the same. We hope you will joyfully join us this year in our councils, dances, rituals, and prayers as we seek relation with Her. 



Invitation to Passover Village 2018



Dear Passover Villagers, past, present, and future:

For the past 22 years, our Passover Village community has journeyed into the desert on Passover to reclaim indigenous Hebrew traditions and earth-based ways of being.  We have all but lost these traditions during the last two millennia of “civilization.”  Returning to the land on Passover has been our means to feel our way back to our core being. We do so by creating a three-day encampment during which we renew connections with our ancestors and nature through storytelling, council, ceremony, song, and community.  This year we will again celebrate together in holy community under the sun and stars, amongst the coyotes, desert tortoises, and yucca plants at Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave desert.

Tradition demands that we relate the story of our liberation from slavery and oppression in Egypt as if we, ourselves, had been present in that Exodus.  The ancient story teaches universal lessons of freedom, renewal, and connection to Earth for all peoples.  Together with a mixed multitude of other peoples (Exodus 12:38), the Children of Israel ventured into the wilderness seeking to serve Spirit. With this model of a multicultural, multilingual, and multicolored mass of heart-based community of seekers, we, humbly and with great respect, invite people of all tribes and faiths to share the Passover celebration with us this year, as always. 

Each year, we have reflected on where we are as a community and that community’s place in the world.  While looking back to sacred texts and commentaries we also look within ourselves to see what we might learn, how we might grow and how we can contribute.  And, we cannot help but consider all of the above in the context of the times in which we live.

The times in which we live are, for many, fraught with fear and distrust, disrespect and abuse.  Among the most poignant of the themes and issues facing all of us is the place and plight of the oppressed among us.  

These are not new themes, of course.  As we closed the Passover Village in Joshua Tree last April, we began to form an intention for this year’s retreat.  It is still being crafted, along the lines of acknowledgment, respect and support for women, hearing their voices, heeding their calls.  Again, while these issues are not new, no one knew (but anyone might have predicted) that a line would be crossed and women could no longer remain silent in the face of abuse, harassment and worse.

Emboldened by shared stories, women have been speaking up and having an impact.  As we write, hundreds of thousands of women are marching nationwide.

We want to say:  “We have your backs.”

We have been seeking how the Sacred Feminine Spirit might inform our actions while we support our women (each other, and everyone, of course) and to listen from the heart to their voices and their stories. 

We invite you to join us at this year’s Passover Village retreat to deepen the conversation, embrace the experience, and be together as we learn from each other.

Women, you are particularly invited to contribute your voice and what’s in your heart.  “We” all need you.

What are the messages?  Does any of this resonate with you?  Come.  Let’s resonate together.

SAVE THE DATE:  Passover Village Retreat, April 6-8, 2018, Joshua Tree National Park

* Many of you have already registered to attend; some have already sent the contribution.  Your place will be reserved provided it’s received by March 1st.

If you HAVEN'T registered and want to attend this year, please write ASAP and we will send you registration info.
  
Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Dan
m 310-396-0706

2017-10-17

Why I go To the Desert

Psalms say,
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."
In the quiet of the desert, I can hear even the stones breath. 
Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights.

Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, stars of light.

Praise the LORD from the earth.

Fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind, fulfilling His word.

Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars.

Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged fowl.
 In the desert, I hear them all praising God.

Halleluyah.




2017-02-27

Registration & Kavanah for Passover Village 2017

Dear Friends,

Registration for Passover Village 2017 is now OPEN!

This email has information for registration but not everything else.  Please also visit: http://passovervillage.blogspot.com for other Passover Village info.

LOCATION
This year we will be returning to the spectacular group camps in Joshua Tree National Monument.  Exact location and directions will be provided with registration confirmation.

DATES
Friday-Sunday
April 14 – April 16, 2017

Come Early:
Camp is available to us as early as 3:00 pm Wednesday, April 12th.  Otherwise, plan to arrive by 8:00 am Friday at the latest to set-up your personal camp and join the opening circle at 9:00 am.

KAVANAH:  
Kavanah (Spiritual Intention) for Passover Village 2017

A voice calls out
In the wilderness, open a path to the Holy One!
                                                                                    Isaiah

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
And I don’t know the kind of person you are
A pattern that others made may prevail in the world
And following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
                                                                                    William Stafford

From the Leadership Council:

For the past 21 years, our Passover Village community has journeyed into the desert on Passover to reclaim indigenous Hebrew traditions and earth-based ways of being.  We have all-but lost these traditions during the last two millennia of “civilization.”  Returning to the land on Passover has been our means to feel our way back to our core being. We do so by creating a three-day encampment during which we renew connections with our ancestors and nature through storytelling, council, ceremony, song, and community.   This year we will again celebrate together in holy community under the sun and stars, amongst the coyotes, desert tortoises, and yucca plants at Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave desert.

Tradition demands that we relate the story of our liberation from slavery and oppression in Egypt as if we, ourselves, had been present in that Exodus.  The ancient story teaches universal lessons of freedom, renewal, and connection to Earth for all peoples.  Together with a mixed multitude of other peoplesthe Children of Israel ventured into the wilderness seeking to serve Spirit. With this model of a multicultural, multilingual, and multicolored mass of heart-based community of seekers, we, humbly and with great respect, invite people of all tribes and faiths to share the Passover celebration with us this year.

There is now a special urgency. Our post-11/8 world requires new ways of being, that are old ways of being.  The Hebrew prophets called out doom and gloom and yet opened a path through the wilderness back to the Holy.  The times call upon elders to bring accumulated wisdom to the world, and balance back to the culture. Since 11/8, we have been gathering in council circles to share from the heart and seek ways to traverse the dangerous chasm that has opened in our nation.

So it is in this spirit that we welcome people of all faiths and tribes to join in the wider conversation that Passover can inspire. We learn from each other’s tribal wisdom traditions and stories of liberation. We bridge divisions and estrangement.  Coming together with peoples of good heart and spirit is the path through the moral wilderness that separates, divides, and oppresses us individually.

This year in Joshua Tree.
Next year in a world of social and environmental justice.


REGISTRATION INFORMATION (you may also use the attached form): 
Send the following (required):
1.  * Payment (requested contribution is $90/adult or child 13-and-over; 
children who are 12-and-under free! *
2.  The name, phone number, and email address of each adult being registered
3.  The name and ages of any children aged 17-and-under, and the name of the adult registrant who will be responsible for each child.
4.  The number and description of vehicles.
5.  The date and time you plan to arrive.
6.  Make checks payable to LARRY RICHARD
7.  Mail to:
Larry Richard
2118 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 594
Santa Monica, CA 90403

(Larry's cell:  310-560-6004)


* Must be received by April 1, 2017 to confirm your space.
* Includes all camping fees and delicious, catered Seder meal.
* Genuine financial hardship should not keep you from attending.  Please let us know how you can contribute.
* Volunteers needed:  1) help loading gear on Wed April 12th, 2) transporting to and from camp, 3) unloading gear on Sun April 16th


AGREEMENTS

By registering for this retreat, attendees also agree to the following:

Photography and Recordings:

Please:
-- When we are gathered In Community with a common focus, or "In Session," put away cameras and recording devices.
-- When we are not gathered as a focused community, having lunch, talking with others, etc., photos and recording are allowed within bounds of respect, privacy and permission: Be discrete, non-intrusive, and respectful of all participants when taking any photographs or recording; some may prefer not to be photographed or recorded at all.
-- Do not publish photos or recordings in public media
-- If unsure about a photo or recording, do not take or publish it.
Personal Displays and Self Promotion: 
In the spirit of a retreat, so that we might leave behind the things of the day to day world, please do not bring personal displays or promotional items into community areas.
Thank you!

CARPOOLING
This is strongly encouraged and a great way to start the Village before you arrive.  Parking onsite is very limited.  Let us know if you need or can offer a ride. 

SHARING THE BURDEN, LIGHTENING THE LOAD
If you find you will be traveling alone, please consider offering to partner with another Passover Villager to share driving, camp set-up and meals.  If you are strong, please share.  If you are not so strong, please ask for help.  

ACCESSIBILITY: The campground is accessible via road. The outhouses meet ADA requirements for accessibility. Most of the campsite is sandy or loose soil, making wheelchair mobility difficult. But as during our exodus from Egypt, when the infirm and disabled were carried, we will accommodate special needs.

PARKING

Parking is limited in the group site parking lot.  

Overflow parking is available a short drive away and shuttle rides back to camp can be arranged as needed.  RV parking is restricted by size (25’ max) as well as total number of all vehicles.


CAMPSITE DETAILS
* Our secluded group site is nestled within a 100’ surround of the enigmatic and evocative boulders of Joshua Tree 
* We do not have running water however community water supply and personal water containers can be filled for free at the ranger station about one mile away
* Multiple picnic tables and a community barbecue pit  
* Two pit toilets in weather-protected brick building
There are sites for individual tents scattered throughout the group site.
* This is a family-friendly site, however it is in the National Park and precautions are advised against the elements and around prickly shrubs.
* This site is a 2-3 hour drive from the Los Angeles area. Motels or B&B accommodations can be found in nearby Twentynine Palms if you cannot camp.
* Exact location and directions will be provided after registration.  Please don't plan to "just drop by."
* Visit https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm for complete National Park Service details

We hope there is enough information provided here but if you have any questions, call or write at your earliest opportunity!

See you soon,

Dan
C 310-396-0706

2017-02-13

Looking Outward

The Passover Village has been meeting for 21 years, going into the desert as a group of Hebrews/Jews plus friends to draw inspiration from nature and to relive our Exodus into freedom.

In a recent daylong Leadership Council meeting, we decided that we can not address our liberation this year by looking inward.

Instead, we are looking outward and inviting members of other faith and tribal traditions to join us to share their stories, too, and find what we have in common.

Watch for more information or contact a member of Leadership Council.

2017-02-06

Indigenous Hebrew Reflections on Standing Rock

Indigenous Hebrew Reflections on Standing Rock

Some context to what follows: Although we may not have known exactly what we were getting into at the time, 21 years ago we in the nascent Passover Village (PV) began a quest to dig down deep into the Earth to recover our connection to our ancient Hebrew ancestors and reclaim our indigenous Hebrew soul.  As current events have evolved, with the election of a neo-fascist government, the accelerating destruction of Earth through climate change, and the rise of  a grass roots indigenous resistance movement, I am left to ponder what the wisdom of an authentic Hebrew indigenous tradition has to offer in these times.  What follows then are some reflections on my experiences at Standing Rock in early December.

It has been just over a month since I returned from 3 days in Standing Rock.  Although I could only go for a short time, I knew I had to go, to be there, to witness, to see and understand with my own eyes, to support those protectors who were on the front lines.  People ask me: “How was it?”.  I don’t have the words to answer.  “Great!” is an absurd answer.  “Amazing”, inadequate.  “Real” perhaps getting closer, but no one would understand that answer.  “A walking prayer” is perhaps the most accurate, but there is little in the Western mind to understand the depth of what that means.
  
When you drive into the Oceti Sakowin camp and get out of the car, there is a palpable sense that you have entered another world, another way of being.  It is a community of prayer.  It is a community of ceremony.  It is a community of respect.  People live there in a different mind, and a different heart, from the way we live in modern, western culture.  One knows the air you are breathing is different, though you may not quite know how.  We dropped off our offerings of buffalo meat to the kitchen and medical supplies to the medic tent.  I looked for my sweat lodge brother’s tipi, but couldn’t find it.  We made our way to the dome, where the day’s schedule of meetings was posted on a white board and where the community meets in council each morning, but it was afternoon and we would have to wait for the next day for our orientation.  We met a young woman with bright eyes and wide-open heart, who welcomed us and told us of communal tents where someone without their own shelter could sleep.  We made our way to the sacred fire in the center of the camp, where the man on the microphone announced comings and goings – this person needs a ride to Bismarck, this person needs some firewood – and where the drummers and singers interspersed sacred Lakota prayer songs.  I recognized the songs from my travels on the Red Road, and I recognized the feelings of being around the central fire, seeing the man tend it with intention and stillness, focus and deference.  I knew that I stood in the heart place of a community of prayer, standing there with all those who had been there for months and all those who, like us, had just recently arrived to stand with the Native peoples. A tall native man, a US combat veteran with an American flag tucked into his backpack, had just that moment arrived to the camp and was given the mike.  He had walked much of the way from Oklahoma.  As he spoke, other native veterans joined the group, made a circle, and welcomed this man, giving him water, food, and shelter.  And I knew then what this struggle was about, the struggle which we had come to support.

Colonial Mind
You must know, it isn’t just about water, though water is the precipitant reason for the current stand.  And it is right that water should be - that Elemental that carries the essence of fluidity, purification, healing, constant movement and flowing.  “You will draw forth the water with joy from the wellsprings of salvation ”, Isaiah tells us.   Of course water is calling us.  But it isn’t about her only.  She is the force of healing, what is needed to heal, and it is for that global healing that we are called together to stand, and to point out to our friends, relatives, the world. 

Our world has suffered terribly for over 2000 years from a plague I will call “colonial mind”.  It is the plague of a way of thinking that is imperialistic, greedy, colonial, and conquest-driven, combined with a religious scaffolding that claims to be the god-given “Way”.   This is a mind that across the ages has led to death, genocide, environmental destruction, and repetitive cycles of tragedy.  It is the mind that says we need more, more, always more – more oil, more profit, more land, more growth.  It is the mind that led to the Native American genocide, which most people in our country won’t even acknowledge or think about, let alone address honestly.  It led to the shameful practice of American slavery of African peoples and the ongoing fallout from that horrific trauma.  And it led to millennia of persecution, hatred, and massacres of my people, the Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.  It is a mind of arrogance and narcissism, a taking mentality, and it is the basis for the dominant culture of the United States, which promotes greed, status, and individual success above such communal values of balance, harmony, and respect for all things.

As a Jew, it is easy to blame Christianity for this state of affairs, specifically the Pauline  Christianity  that chose to supercede rather than co-exist with Judaism, the Christianity that was combined and launched with the abusive, imperial power of Rome under Constantine.  This led to centuries of persecution, pogroms, forced conversions, and Holocaust.  But I also have to look in the mirror, and read the sacred texts of my own people to see what role we may have played as well.  One does not have to look far.  In the Torah, God gives Moses the charge: wipe out the Canaanite nations that are currently in the land into which I will bring you so that you may possess it and inherit it (Deuteronomy 20:17).  Is this not imperial/colonial mind, justified and presented by the writers of the Torah as an instruction from the Holy One?  And the Book of Joshua describes this conquest in gruesome, bloody detail, the slaughter of every man, woman, and child, and even animals of village after village.   I can’t help but think: is not this the precursor, some 3000 years earlier, of the policy of Manifest Destiny that was used in the genocide of the native peoples of North America?  Did Judaism then, through its sacred scriptures, play a role in transmitting this poison into the world, which then Christianity took to such murderous extent, that it now infects the entire planet?   Why didn’t Joshua “just say no”?  There was precedent for disagreeing with Divine instruction. When God told Abraham he was going to destroy Sodom and Gemorrah, Abraham argued with God to spare the cities for the sake of only 10 righteous people that might still live there (Genesis 18:32).  This is understood as one of the 10 tests of Abraham, who is understood in the Jewish tradition to represent the archetype of Hesed, loving-kindness.  But neither Joshua nor Moses challenged the Holy One at this critical moment. Perhaps that was their test, and they failed miserably.  And we are still suffering to this day because of it.  

DAPL and Energy Transfer Partners is just the latest manifestation of this destructive mind.  They see nothing wrong with putting a pipeline under one of the biggest water sources in the United States, desecrating (yet again) sacred Native lands and burial sites, ignoring (yet again) treaties made with the native peoples, because it will lead to profit.  For to them, really, nothing else matters.  Oil spills and death of animals and poisoning of water – it’s not the water the CEOs and investors of Energy Transfer Partners drink, so why care about a bunch of poor brown and red people who will have their water poisoned?  And it must be known by all that DAPL is not the only oil pipeline being built, for ugly and dangerous black snakes of pipelines are crossing the nation.  But DAPL is just a symptom, just another example of the destructive, crazy mind that has destroyed countless indigenous peoples, that has polluted our air and brought us climate change that threatens all of our existence (which of course that mind denies, against all objective evidence, because if it did not deny, it would have to actually face the facts of what it has done and is doing). 

These Times
So, it’s clear we are in a time, a new time.  Let’s call it “these times”.  With the rise in the U.S. of a mostly white, abusive, greed-driven, power hungry, racist, fascist-leaning government, it should be clear to all what we are facing.  We cannot pretend this is not happening, or we will all be destroyed.  As Martin Luther King said, “Together we must learn to live as brothers, or together we will be forced to perish as fools.”  And as the Lakota people teach, we must think of the children 7 generations down from us, and base every action from that perspective.  Or as the Hebrew people say, the wrongdoings of the fathers will be transmitted 11 generations . . . unless we say “no”.  Unless we stand, and meet the test.  The Standing Rock Sioux have given us a great gift.  In their example, they have shown us what it means to have fortitude, bravery, compassion, respect, and humility.  It is time to stand to save the Earth Mother and the community of all beings.  It is time to stop the greed-driven destruction.  Good people of good heart can do this.  All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people do nothing. 

Back to my time at Standing Rock.  The native people told us, in our orientation to the camp where they transmitted the words of the elders, to look at our actions, to explore our colonized minds, to understand that we are “settler citizens” and have been acting like this for hundreds of years.  Custer raped the Black Hills for gold, Energy Transfer rapes the land for black gold. 

And also, I feel there is another important element.  We must see our “enemies” as “no enemies”.  These are human beings, like us.  And they are also traumatized, either personally or culturally or historically, and they know not what they do.  So, while standing firmly and resolutely, we must stand with empathy and love and complete nonviolence. The struggle is not one to be engaged with anger and hatred.  That is the very mind we are struggling against.  We must remain in our hearts, with prayer, ceremony, community.  This is the gift given to us by the Standing Rock Sioux and the historic gathering of over 200 other native tribes who have joined them in North Dakota.  We must stand for the Earth, for our children and their children, and theirs down 7 or 11 generations, with a love so deep, and a desire for peace and balance so strong, that all the genocidal forces of that colonial mind have no way to get traction.  If such a stand had happened in the 1930s in Germany, 6 million of my people would not have been slaughtered.  If this had happened in the United States in the decades preceding the late 19th century, the genocide of the native peoples of this continent would not have happened. 

But it seems not enough to know what we are standing against.  It seems we must know what we are standing for.  And for that, again, we owe a debt of gratitude to the native peoples, and in this case the Standing Rock Sioux in particular.  One just need look around the camp and listen to the teachings of the elders to understand what this movement is all about.  It is about prayer, ceremony, community, connection to Earth, and connection to Spirit. All spiritual traditions that speak to these common values are welcome at the table.  A Judaism that lives by “love your neighbor as you love yourself” is welcome to join a movement that honors “all my relations”.  But a Judaism that thrives on the Joshuaic idea that justifies oppression, imprisonment, and killing because “God gave us this land, and it is ours not theirs” is off track and out of balance with both the land and our fellow human beings.  A Christianity that follows the loving teachings of Jesus is welcome, but the Chrisitanity feels it is  “the way”, and that God has given it license to put down other traditions as “Christ killers”, “savages”, or other historical epithets that self-justified conquest, power, and genocide, is not welcome, and must look at itself fully in the mirror and make amends.  An Islam that is guided by the loving principles of the prophet is welcome, but a murderous Islam that twists the meaning of jihad, beheads civilians, and terrorizes people of all faiths is not.

In the Torah God gives the people the challenge: you may choose blessing, or curse, life or death (Deuteronomy 30:19).  It seems too long that humankind has followed the path of curse.  This path is one of division, self-righteousness, imbalance, greed, extraction capitalism, use, and abuse.  Really, haven’t we all had enough?.  The positive and loving messages of all faiths show us the path: prayer, ceremony, community, Earth, Spirit.  Isn’t it about time we chose the blessing?  Isn’t it about time we chose life?

Water is Life
Mni wiconi, water is life.  This is the “billboard” of the Standing Rock movement.  On my last morning in the camp, I went to the dawn community prayer ceremony at the sacred fire.  An elder, a Tlingit woman from the Pacific Northwest, led the prayer and the ceremonial walk to the river.  She taught us a chant and implored us to translate it into our languages and share it.  Here is the chant and its English translation.

Mni t’hey hey hey la Water I love you
Mni wopeda e’ chi chi ya Water I thank you
Mni o ha la hey. Water I respect you

Here is my version of the Hebrew form, recognizing that I take license with some of the grammar.  I wondered, should I translate to modern Hebrew, or the ancient biblical Hebrew of our indigenous ancestors?  The latter seems more appropriate for this use, but modern Hebrew speakers would be puzzled. I ended up with a mix, for the poetry of it.  I use mostly feminine forms of the verbs – haven’t we had enough of the patriarchy, really?  And somehow the sweetness of the song, that it was sung as a processional water ceremony led by native women, gently asks for us to honor that Feminine aspect of both God and our souls.  In the Hebrew tradition we know Her as Shechinah, or long before we knew Her by that name, we knew Her as Asherah.

Mayim ohevet otach
Mayim modah ani lach, modeh ani lach
Mayim m’kavedet otach


On Being Human
Following that water ceremony, I got cold from the below 20 degree temperature and brisk wind at the river.  I was shivering as I walked through the camp, and I found my friend’s tipi.  He came out and walked me to their kitchen tent, where about 8-10 people were milling about in the cozy, propane-heated interior.  He led me to a big pot of hot beef stew, which I poured and warmed myself with from the inside as I sat by the heater.  I think I have never had such a rich and delicious stew.  I met a woman who spoke of her tribe, the Maudi of Northern California.  “I do not know of your people,” I told her, “but I will learn”.  I have.  They were one of the dozens of California Indian tribes decimated by the Catholic missions, whose leader, Junipero Serra, was recently canonized by the pope.  The woman said she really needed some thermal underlinings, and I offered the pair of women’s long underwear my mother had given me just a few days earlier to donate.  It was a brief meeting of synchronicities, of reciprocal exchange and mutual benefit, my offering her warmth as the soup and fire of the community kitchen tent warmed me.  Connections, caring, community, paying it forward.  This is what it means to be a human being.

Standing Rock and the community camps there, Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud, Standing Stone, they have shown us what is possible.  There will be many more opportunities to stand together in the coming years.  We must have heart and come together in this action.  All people from all spiritual traditions of good will must feel the call, and must come to do this.  It is the only response we can have, and the only thing that will stop the shadow that is unashamedly raising its head, yet again, in our country at this time, threatening to divide, conquer, ravage, pillage, abuse, and destroy.  We have only love, prayer, ceremony, community, Earth, Spirit, balance, harmony, respect, humility.  It is enough.

Mitakuye oyasin – All my relations.
Mayim Ha'chayim – Water is life.