Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Shabbat Filled with New Experiences

Saturday Afternoon - July 5th

Me with a matter of fact voice " ... well it is a different kind of place ..."

Oldest Son with a half smile and air of mischief "That describes most places you take us." 

Previous Friday Evening - July 4th

We chose a unique way to celebrate July 4th this year. Some background is required.

Etgar 36: Here is a description from their website CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE
Etgar 36 is dedicated to developing the future Jewish political voice by taking Jewish teens on journeys throughout America, developing their identities, and empowering them to get involved politically and socially to change the world.

The Etgar trip is not a religious trip, rather, it is a Jewish identity experience in which the participants will discover how, and on what level, Judaism relates to them as American citizens. They will see America through Jewish eyes.

35 Jewish high schoolers start in Atlanta and travel through the South up through California over to Chicago and down through Washington, DC finishing in Greenville - CLICK HERE FOR CITIES
The itinerary is remarkable CLICK HERE TO VIEW WHAT THEY DO

This journey defines what I love about Judiasm. It is not about telling Jews what to think but instead it teaches how to think and more importantly how to question the status quo.

The Etgar 36 Dallas stop included a JFK exploration at the Sixth Floor Museum and Conspiracy Museum. They also met with a right to life organization and later in another city they will meet with NARAL, a pro-choice organization. These curious teens will experience first hand the rhetoric and be equipped to make up their own minds.

Beth El Binah: Here is a description from their website CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE
Beth El Binah is a Reform Jewish Congregation welcoming people of all backgrounds. We recognize that all men and women are created in b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God. In Hebrew, Beth El Binah means “house of an Understanding God.”

Beth El Binah was founded as a synagogue with an outreach to the GLBT community. We became a congregation in 1989 and joined with the Union of Reform Judaism in 1992. Today we have a very diverse membership which reflects the evolution of our community.

The Etgar 36 group was hosted by Beth El Binah Friday night for Shabbat dinner, service and a spectacularly candid discussion about marriage equality and challenges in the GLBT community. Later in the trip these kids will hear from a group that is against marriage equality - again supporting the notion of educating young minds with all viewpoints to empower them to stand up for their chosen beliefs.

Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I Were There Friday Night. We attended with another Temple Emanu-El family whose son is an 11th grader at our kids' same school, who are in our Chavurah group and who know one of the Etgar 36 boys (from NY) participating. I learned about Etgar 36 in a Tablet magazine article and a series of coincidences led us to be together this July 4th.

The group of 50-60 sat in a crooked circle at the Oaklawn community center as we celebrated with a short Shabbat service. Even in this simple setting, the prayers and songs of our Reform Judaism created a comforting connection.  After the service, listening to the vibrant and colorful discussion about GLBT issues of the day was sad, encouraging, infuriating, informative, surprising, racy and often humorous. We were privileged to be part of this learning experience. Open minds create open hearts.

Ark holding the Torah and Ner Tamid (Eternal Light)
Saturday - July 5th

Saturday brought another kind of exceptional adventure. Commuter Husband and I took the boys and 3 of their friends to Burger's Lake in Fort Worth CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

Burger's Lake is a spring fed, sandy bottomed swimming hole with diving boards, trapeze swing, slides, picnicking, etc. I went there when I was a kid! It has not changed much. The clientele is not high brow but more of lower to middle class families having simple fun that families have enjoyed for decades.

This was a Saturday that was celebrated the way Shabbat is intended - cease work, enjoy your family and be in nature ...
Youngest Son jumping off the high dive - it is quite high!
Our 5 boys playing tether ball - see the trapeze in background?
Commuter Husband manning the picnic table.
Saturday Afternoon - July 5th

Commuter Husband to Oldest Son " ... that is what I love about your mother she takes me places I would never go ..."

My Experience Junkie alter ego got a HUGE Fix this weekend. I love, love exploring new ideas and places in the world with my family. 

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