Jewish learning Ep #6: Stop Making Sense
The more we can move toward this poetic sense of reality, breaking up received notions about the world, I think that’s going to release the potential of our humanity across the board, whether we’re talking about young children in education, and rabbis or anyone else. I think it’s that ability to break up received notions, to explode them, that allows the kind of truly creative energy to come into being.– Anne Germanacos
In this episode of Speaking Torah, Rabbi Mónica Gomery reflects on Moses’ poem Ha’azinu. In her essay, she looks at the truth and the falseness of poetry, how our identities and experiences aren’t fixed, and how that expands our sense of what’s possible.
Rabbi Mónica Gomery was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2017 and serves as one of the rabbis at Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia where she’s the music director and prayer leader of the community.
We invited Anne Germanacos to read Mónica’s essay. Anna is a writer, activist, and educator living in San Francisco. She contributes time and other resources to a wide variety of individuals and organizations through the Germanacos Foundation and Firehouse Fund, Cultivating Sparks.
Listen in this episode as Anne Germanacos reads Mónica’s d’var Torah, written in 2019, highlighting this piece’s ever-increasing relevance in a world of post-truths and “alternative facts”. Mónica shares with us how leaning into that which doesn’t make narrative sense highlights the greater truths that can fly under our rational mind.
What You’ll Discover from this Episode:
- How a poetic way of breaking down truth allows a deeper truth to shine through the fissures that remain.
- The contrast between a poetic breaking down of the truth and how we have seen the truth manipulated in recent years.
- What makes metaphor as necessary to theology despite its inherent fictionality.
- How poetry can help us understand and interpret Torah beyond what is obvious and simple.
- The role of poetry asking us to hold what is true, what is untrue, and what is beyond true.
- How Parshat Ha’azinu asks us to lean into the ways that language can be surprising and disruptive.
Featured on this Episode:
Rabbi Mónica Gomery`17 (writer) was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College and serves as one of the rabbis at Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia, where she is the Music Director and Prayer Leader of the community. She also teaches liberatory text as a faculty member at SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva and as a member of the founding leadership team of Let My People Sing! Mónica has served as a prison and geriatric chaplain, educator, and is a published poet — her poem Ars Poetica was featured as the Dec. 22, 2020 Poetry Foundation’s Poem of The Day.
Anne Germanacos is a writer, activist and educator living in San Francisco. She contributes time and other resources to a wide variety of individuals and organizations through the Germanacos Foundation and Firehouse Fund: Cultivating Sparks. For more information on Anne’s books, teaching and philanthropy, visit mergemerge.com.
Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, PhD (host) is Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab. He is Research Professor in the Department of Music & Judaic Studies at Tufts University and Senior Consultant for Hillel International. The author of several books, among his many awards are a 2018 Hebrew College honorary degree, a GRAMMY nomination for his CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, the Edgar M. Bronfman Award for Lifetime Accomplishment in Hillel Professional Leadership, and the Tufts Hosea Ballou Medal.
A special thank you for this episode’s musical contributions:
Intro by: Jackson Mercer
Jackson is an Ordination Candidate at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. He grew up at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, CA where he cultivated a love of Judaism, embolden with music, spirituality and justice.
Esa Einai (Psalm 121:1)
Music by Jackson Mercer
Guitar and Melody by Jackson Mercer
Harmonies by Cantor Rosalie Will, Ilana Sandberg, Rabbi Micah Shapiro, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Noah Diamondstein, Ryan Leszner, Eliana Light.
Outro by: Rabbi Matt Ponak
Congregation Emanu-El of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia Canada
Ordination: Hebrew College 2020