Ok - so, the cereal post. I swear this one is about cereal.
I was at a yizcor service the other day. I know - it sounds hauntingly familiar, doesn't it? Still, a promise is a promise. Anyway...
I was at a yizcor service the other day. It was lovely. Many of the smaller North Shore Reform synagogues find it a bit of a stretch to gather a minyan on festival days, so a bunch of us have banded together to make sure there are enough of us to pray and sing and mourn. We take turns hosting (though these days, it seems as if there are only two of us who host - though to be fair, one of the synagogues is buildingless (as is my shul), which makes it a little more problematic to play host).
I like the synagogue who hosted us all this round. There's a lot of natural light that spills through the sanctuary. We sit in creaky theater-style seats, and the rabbis and cantors eschew the formality of the bima and sit just in front of us. Some of them (and some of us) wear tallitot. My rabbi always brings his guitar. It is close and intimate. Each of them takes turns, as do the cantors. It's unscripted; as best I can tell, when whomever is "done" with his/her turn, points to a colleague with a "Do you wanna" shrug.
And so it goes. A little Hebrew, a little (bit more) English, a little music, all to fill the soul. We all take a moment to honor the commandment, to set this day apart.
I know, I know - you're still waiting for the cereal. I'm getting to it.
The host rabbi welcomed us all to his synagogue, He is kind and smart and for some reason, I know that his favorite verse is from Psalm 118 - The stone which the builders rejected is become the chief cornerstone. He pointed at the small row of cereal boxes in the corner of the bima. "I suppose you're wondering why there's cereal on the bima, especially since it's still Pesach." He smiled at us, almost daring us to guess. He told us that their tradition was to collect cereal during the Counting of the Omer, one additional box each day. Thus, the first day was one box, the second two, and so on, for all 49 days of the count. "At the end, we'll have collected 1225 boxes."
That's an awful lot of cereal. They donate all the boxes to local food banks. What better way to honor the doing of this commandment - counting out a measure of grain, every day for 49 days, days that are laced with fragility and unsurety?
I think about our ancestors, who were still getting their feet wet (so to speak) with all the freedom and walking and where's the next meal coming from, not to mention where are we going and when will we get there? So much uncertainty! So much fear.
For all that, I gotta believe that they would have loved Rabbi Ike's omer counting/cereal collection thing.
And so we count eight.
- I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.