The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kabbalah Talk at 8000 Feet

Two and a Half Rabbis in the Rockies II

Click on the link to read the entire story!

Note: When speaking about the various Jewish people that I've met, none of my comments should G-d forbid be construed as a criticism or mockery of any the precious souls with which we have dealt. I wish only to give the reader a taste of the varied types of people found in the region, and a better understanding of the irony of the human comedy.
There are Jews in Salida?

In the Morning we woke to the sound of the country and the rising of a clear morning's sun over the tree tops.
The air was sharp and crisp, a pleasant introduction to the coming dry heat of midday.

After breakfast and Davenin we met with our first contact -R' Gershon.

Gershon left the East coast years ago, but not before having Yechidus (private audience) with the Rebbe.

Putting on Tefillin with Gershon

After a brief chat and prayer, we bid Gershon farewell and drove off to our next appointment with Jewish Journalist -Jonathan Schwab.

Schwab interviewied us in a local coffee shop, and then took us to a park on the Arkansas River for a photo shoot.

Between the first and second shot, a couple walked between us and the camera.
They looked at us with knowing and inquisitive eyes, we at them . . . Both parties seemed to recgonize the other and wonder as to how they had come to such a place.

"Sholom!" I cried out to them.
"Sholom." The husband responded. "What brings a bunch of Brooklyn boys like you out here?"
"I was about to ask you what would bring a Jewish couple like yourselves out here as well . . ."

They were from Chicago, and had a daughter in Denver University.
After a brief schmooze, we put on tefillin . . . Schwab was able to see us in action -what a scoop!

After wrapping up Jonathan, we returned to the newspaper office . . .

The quaint town of Salida

Bidding goodbye to the staff of the paper, the technical adviser asked us where we were off to next,

"Crestone, Alamosa, Pueblo . . ."

Eyes widening the adviser chuckled,

"Crestone is a real interesting place . . . Very spiritual. Nothing much was going on there -they couldn't develop the land, so in the Seventies they made a grant to give parcels of it to religious organizations. You've got all kinds of people up there in the Baca Grande development -Carmelite monks, Buddhists, Ashrams -you name it, they have it."

Queens Pottery a la Azul

The Road out of Salida

A stop for an alpine breath of air.

The previous day we had called one Azul in Villa Grove, an unincorporated town with a population of 153 and a U.S. Post Office located on the side of the highway.

The glorious town of Villa Grove.

Azul had told us that he would be on a business trip in Denver - but acting on a hunch, and the general need for a road stop, we stopped by his Bed-and-Breakfast/pottery store.

Inside we met none other then Azul himself . . . A Jewish boy from Queens who had fled to the West in the Sixties, and never looked back.
He now spends his days hiking, kayaking, hand making pottery, and selling it online.

Kabbalah at 8,000 Feet

As we drove towards Crestone - Baca Grande, I began calling the Jews on our contact list for the town.
Unfortunately, the poor cellphone reception made for a somewhat jilted conversation.

"Hello, is this Meryl? This Rabbi Mottel calling."
"Hello, rabbi? You must be calling from a cellphone . . . It's very hard to hear you."
"Yes. I'm on my way to Crestone, and I wanted to stop by and wish you a 'Shana Tova'."
"I can't hear you. But if I understood you correctly, you'll be coming to Crestone. So when you do, you'll have to make a right into Baca Grande, thena left on Rendevouzs -now we just got street names here, so we don't even have numbers on the houses . . . But I'll be waiting to see you in the third house on the left. So I'm going to hang up now, and I hope to see you when you arrive."

The detour to Crestone.

Meryl's house.

Meryl was waiting on her front porch. Ushering us past her coper art studio, she brought us into her kitchen.

"I would have made you fresh handpicked Nana tea, but I know you're worried about Kashrut."
"So," she continued in her unusually calm, almost sedate voice. "Where are you three from?"

Our conversation meandered from one concept until the next, until Rosh Hashana came up.

"My Rav," she said with a grin. "Always taught me 'M'darf mamshich zayn di kedusha fun Rosh Hashana auf a gantz yahr.' [We must draw down the sanctity of Rosh Hashanah into the entire year-Mottel] He received it as a tradition from the Ba'al Shem Hakodesh -but I'm sure you've heard similar things from the Lubavitcher [Rebbe]."

She obviously meant business.

Her art also had a Kabalistic overtone.

"I was commissioned by the Carmelite Monks here to make a sign. I put in Shem Havayah -since it represents the Ohr Ein Sof beyond hishtalshelus, and the Arabic greeting Ahlan wa-Sahlan."

She continued to converse with us about various esoteric concepts in her almost unsettlingly calm voice; piercing the serpentine hypnosis she cast upon us with an occasional burst of almost maniacal laughter.

Up for the challenge, I segued in the famous hesber of the Alter Rebbe about Yom Kippur.
"When the Torah teaches 'L'fnei Hashem T'tahru' -literally before G-d the Jewish people shall be purified." I said,
"It means that on Yom Kippur we achieve a level of purity by reaching into etzem -the essence of the Aibershter beyond even shem Havayah. In other words, l'fnei here means before in the sense of beyond."

She didn't get it.

"I love how Abiyah -the name for the Four Worlds - also means 'I shall flow.'"

She took us out to her garden.
"I grow mostly medicinal plants here. But we in Baca Grande are preparing for the impending gas shortage that will come after gas peaks in the next five to ten years . . ."
"You mean they'll run out here?"
"No," she said. "The whole world will run out -and we in Baca will be ready."

We left Meryl, and decided to daven Mincha in the mountains.

Look down to the flat landscape of the plateau between the hills.

. . . Then drove off to our next stop in Alamosa.

Unter Veggens

Lunch in Alamosa.

El Hana'ar hazeh Hispalalti
For this child I prayed

After a Tefillin rapping in Alamosa, we left for our final stop in Pueblo, Colorado.

Meeting in the library of the last traditional synagogue, we spoke with its few steadfast supporters.

One of the group told us that during the Rosh Hashana prayers he had requested that some sign of hope for the community come to him. It was therefor to his utter shock and joy that he heard about our arrival in town.

We returned home around midnight . . .

Don't forget to check out Part One

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Meryl said...

You have the names mixed up. It is Shahna Lax that you are having this conversation with in Crestone.

I am the reform Jew that organizes the reform High Holiday Services and does the cantorial solos.
We met prior to Passover a couple of years ago when you brought your home made matzo.

Please correct your story for a truthful tale.

Thank you.
With love and blessings,
Meryl Ennis

Mottel said...

Meryl -you are one hundred percent right, the lady in question is indeed Shahna. I did not, however, mix up names . . . as policy I don't use the real names of those I meet so as to "protect the innocent." -the name used in this case then, was not meant to be yours, but rather a pseudonym chosen at random.

As a note, a Jew is a Jew, labels are for supper markets.

All the best and wishing you a blessed new year