Friday, September 30, 2011

Today is Rosh Ha Shanah

Today is Rosh Ha Shana, the Jewish New Year. By tradtition, the birthday of the world. The beginning of the days of awe, an annual week of reflection on how one’s life journey has been going, what needs to be changed, the days when one’s fate for the next year is all written into the Book of Life, all leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  
I have enjoyed these days from my time at Bridgeport with David Leichman and Stratford Hall, 37 years ago, to my days in Tulsa and my friends at B’Nai Emunah and Temple Israel, my ten years in Pittsburgh and our time at Temple Emmanuel and with my own family, here in New York. Time that promises do-overs is always worth claiming.
It’s a moment to be thankful for Ted and Asya and Mim and Jon and Alice  who  have given so much to make the Center a reality.  And a sweet year to Katherine, to Marc and Sara as well . 

A call from Reachout. When they came by early this morning, they found four guests, three of whom were undocumented. A new high, in line with the city's growing homeless population. And the balding man (Paul?) continues to be non-cooperative and hostile.  They encourage us to call the precinct, he may be using, may be psychotic.  With these kind of numbers, they'll stay a little closer for awhile. 
Danielle and I working to move forward on the boiler plan. More publicity for the Forgiveness series. And then I’ll head out to Queens for a Rosh Ha Shanah luncheon with Ellen.

                                                                  * * * * 
Once more to see the Tenant, tonight hosting my colleague Alistair and his father from Scotland.  Tonight following the story of Maman and her disabled daughter. And once again picking up new information about other characters. I realize that for these two actors, it’s pretty close to a tour de force, no down time and lots of emotional peaks.  Ending with the daughter’s intense dance in the backyard. I look up and see someone in a room from Capital Hall looking down into the yard, watching, like a real life echo of what is being performed.

Alistair has enjoyed the play and its way of enveloping an audience member. But as a pastor, it's his first awareness of how much damage had actually been experienced by the building. 

 I’m talking with Aaron, who plays Claudia, in the bar after the show. The actors have been anxious  to  know what their colleagues are doing so they’ve decided to do for each other their various best scenes, greatest hits as one put it.  So when remaining audience members have left, cast members in thier street clothes grab drinks and head back to the courtyard to organize their performances for each other. 
It’s a real privilege.  Their scenes are played out with real professionalism and passion, their colleagues responding with laughter and applause.  And mainly mutual appreciation and respect.  I realize that almost every character has  been given their own monologue, their own aria, and that there is a quality to the writing not readily apparent on a first scattered viewing. Though as Aaron says, your experience is what the play is. 
I finally meet some people for the first time. And in the room for the Tall, Pale Man, the actor who  plays Alain thanks me and the church for giving them the opportunity to have this experience. And I am glad for their having breathed life into this space for awhile. 

As I head home, I see that the steps are empty. 

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