Today’s Judaism is a dwelling with many rooms, built over centuries by framers who adapted, remodeled and occasionally rebuilt anew what came before.
Among today’s builders of Judaism, we – meaning us founding builders at Bayit: Your Jewish Home, and you reading this blog – all inherit a very ancient and very modern call to build. In building terms, we all stand on a foundation that a diverse group of master builders audaciously helped frame in their own ways and in their own days.
Here are 12 of those visionary framers – in a sense, a tribe of builders. Some are working today in real time, while others project their continuing influence from foundations laid in past decades or even centuries. We draw inspiration from all of their examples, with gratitude to all the creative build teams hard at work.
Clay Christensen. As modern prophet of the economics and political sociology of “disruptive innovation,” Clay offers vital leadership around design thinking and the life cycle of building itself. By its nature, the process of innovation challenges and sometimes disrupts old structures, in a continuous flow that itself will be disrupted in time. Clay’s teachings inspire our sense of why and how it’s worth taking risks to build, and not merely tolerate but rather warmly invite tomorrow’s builders and the builders that will follow them – knowing that what’s fit to build today might or might not best serve tomorrow. Clay thus also teaches about the potency (and even the necessity) of sometimes un-building.
Marcia Falk. Liturgical, poetic, scholarly, expansive and subversive, Marcia inspires our intuition that texts can be alive, grounded with deep and ancient roots while also yearning to be shaped into new structures for today and tomorrow. Marcia’s groundbreaking The Book of Blessings is a beacon for soulful re-mixing – one part living artwork, one part blueprint, one part muse – and a model for some of the best of blueprint creativity.
Rabbi Art Green. Art combines the towering insight of a world-renowned scholar with the soft and overflowing heart of a loving grandfather. As leading academician, Art’s strategic vision has shaped countless clergy building the future of Judaism – first at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and then at Hebrew College, helping pioneer a fiercely trans-denominational ethic in spiritual formation and Jewish expression. Art’s scholarship adapts ancient tools of Jewish mysticism to modern users, bringing neo-Hasidism’s riches to thousands. Art also rolls up his sleeves and generously offers thought partnership on designing new pathways for Jewish life.Continue reading “Master Builders: Shaping the Call to Build”→
It’s an audacious idea – that a Jewish future needs to be built, or that we (or anyone) can claim the inner wisdom, the know-how, the tools, the chutzpah and even the right to do the building.
But if you’re reading this post, you’re part of that team – a growing circle of builders taking the Jewish future into your own hands. Because let’s face it: the Jewish future is in your hands.
This call to build isn’t a risk-averse negative – like shrill sirens wailing alarmist warnings of the “ever-disappearing Jew” – but rather a welcoming and realistic positive. The Jewish future will be exactly what people make it – nothing more and nothing less – so why not focus on the realities of building and builders?
That’s exactly what we aim to do. Welcome to Bayit: Your Jewish Home.
Bayit is a start-up committed to helping build a soulful, inclusive and meaningful Jewish life for all ages and stages. Partnering broadly with individuals and communities, Bayit will develop, test, refine and distribute tools for a Jewish future always under construction.
In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce Bayit and the various “rooms” of the Bayit “house.” We’ll share some “Big Thinker” design influences and big-hearted inspirations. We’ll introduce the diverse Bayit folks building behind the scenes – across generations, denominations, service contexts and skill sets. We’ll float big questions about what “works” and how we know (and whether we know!), what real design thinking is about, how wise building tools can best connect heart and head, and some initial projects that will be the foundation of Bayit.
From Rabbi David Markus comes this setting of two poems in haftarah trope, intended for the second morning of Rosh Hashanah.
The first is Mary Oliver’s “Invitation,” with its poignant reminder to pay attention and to be ready to change one’s life. The second is Stanley Kunitz’s “The Layers,” which offers a lens on teshuvah with the motif of turning, and ends “I am not done with my changes.” Continue reading “Two poems for Rosh Hashanah Day 2”→
This poem by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi David Markus is a renewing of the traditional haftarah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. (This is a collaborative updating of a poem that R’ Rachel released some years ago.) The poem tells the story of Chanah in contemporary, singable English. Its closing words about yearning and grace aim to bring the haftarah’s spiritual message home.
by Rabbi David Markus
This trope mash-up of Esther and the 2/7/2017 Congressional Record (“nevertheless she persisted” silencing of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren) commemorates Purim and Women’s History Month at a time when society especially needs brave truth tellers to hold back the tide of hate.
Purim affirms Esther’s stand against official silencing, abuse of power, misogyny and anti-Semitism. At first an outsider, Queen Esther used her insider power to reveal and thwart official hatred that threatened Jewish life and safety. We celebrate one woman’s courageous cunning to right grievous wrongs within corrupt systems.
The archetype of heroic woman standing against hatred continues to call out every society still wrestling with official misogyny, power abuses and silencing. For every official silencing and every threat to equality and freedom, may we all live the lesson of Esther and all who stand in her shoes: “Nevertheless, she persisted.”