Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Shekhina on the mind this week

Shekhina by Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

I made my way to Sinai Temple this past Sunday to hear Leonard Nimoy speak about his new book Shekhina, a “photographic essay” of the feminine side of God. Nimoy spoke eloquently, told some great stories about growing up Jewish in Boston, and spoke about photography, his hobby/passion since the 1970’s. During the talk, he displayed a couple dozen photographs from his book, narrating a spiritual journey as his relationship with God developed and deepened. After speaking for about 40 minutes, answered some questions from Rabbi Wolpe and the audience. It turns out that the model on cover of the book wearing tefillin isn’t Jewish.

It turns out that Nimoy is full of yiddishkeit; he’s not some Kabbalah faker like Madonna or Rosie. Yasher Koach to Steve Silverman from the Sinai Mens’ Club for organizing the event and introducing us to a real mentsch. The Seattle Jewish Federation made a big mistake in asking him not to speak. Despite the controversy surrounding his book, they missed out on an opportunity to learn that this man is much, much more than Mr. Spock.

Niggunim with Reb Mimi

Last night, a dozen folks from the Shtibl Minyan spent an hour and a half with Reb Mimi learning melodies for Shacharit and Musaf. Since every time Jews get together is an opportunity for learning, she started with a brief shiur. We read a commentary on Parashat Kedoshim that said that when a community comes together l’shem shemayim (in the name of Heaven), the Shekhina is present, and that it is our responsibility to create a kli (vessel) for that presence. What an awesome responsibility. Can you imagine? The mere gathering of ten people creates the presence of God. I’ve always taken davening pretty seriously, but this makes the endeavor all the more important.

Many of the melodies we learned came from Reb Shlomo Carlebach z”l; others were Hassidic tunes from Yakar in Jerusalem. Some were haunting and melancholy. All were beautiful.

A couple of people brought tape recorders, and Chaim is planning to burn some CDs so we can learn the melodies well enough to sing them in shul.

I’ll be leading the minyan in Shacharit this Saturday. Even if I don’t get to include some of the new melodies I learned, my kavannah will be greatly enhanced knowing that Shekhina is there.