New at This

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

In the last few years I have gotten more involved in Jewish religious
practices. I’ve always enjoyed services for the singing, the sense of
community, and the schmoozing and social catch up that happens at
the oneg. But in the last year I have also started attending classes to
learn Hebrew, go to Torah study occasionally, and actually think about
what the weekly parshah is about. BTW thank you for what you write
at www.kabbalahglass.com/blog/. It gets me thinking about how Torah
actually relates to me and my life. But now I got asked to participate
in an annual ritual, staying up late the night of Shavuous as part of a
study circle. I only have to prepare five minutes of informal
presentation, and then have to facilitate some group discussion. I
teach high school so the talking and facilitating isn’t scaring me, but
having something to say really is. It is a Reform congregation, so I
don’t have to sound like a rabbi. But I’d like to not sound dumb.
Ideas?

New at This

 
Dear New At This:

One of the nicest things about contemporary Torah study, especially in
a Reform, Reconstruction, or Renewal context, is that your thoughts
and observations have value, even if they are not grounded in decades
or centuries of citations from elder scholars with beards. That said, in
our modern age we have relatively easy access to the wisdom of the
ages, so why not avail yourself of it as a jumping off point.
Google google google. Try various combinations of search words, from
something as simple as Shavuot to combos with Mt Sinai, Ten
Commandments, tablets, etc. The iconography of history will get you
to the stories and the teachings. Browse and read. Don’t attack it like
a research problem. Think of it as browsing at the library. See what
calls to you and what stimulates your heart as well as your head. Read
the actual parshah first. The imagery alone may get your going.
Congratulations on going deeper with your spiritual search. It will
become even more and more important to you the deeper and longer
you go.