Posts

Go to Nineveh: A Two-Jonah Duet for Yom Kippur

Here is a new retelling of the book of Jonah, for three voices, drawing on the past year’s events to open up the book’s timeless wisdom. Here’s how it begins:

 

Jonah 1, God and Jonah 2 face the congregation in a line, from stage-right to stage-left, so Jonah 1 appears to be standing on the left with God between them.

GOD: 

The word of the Eternal came to Jonah, son of Truth: Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment on it, for their wickedness has come before Me.

JONAH 1:

I don’t want to go to Nineveh!
They’re anti-maskers. They say COVID is a hoax.
Their disdain for science risks us all.

      JONAH 2:

I don’t want to go to Nineveh!
They’re like sheep. They want Big Government to control everything.
Their disdain for liberty risks us all….

 

Download the script here: Go to Nineveh – A Two-Jonah Duet (PDF)

Also available as google slides suitable for screenshare: Go to Nineveh (Slides)

 

 

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi David Evan Markus are among the co-founders of Bayit: Building Jewish. 

Gates, Open and Closing – New Liturgy / Poetry / Art for Selichot and Ne’ilah

These offerings (new from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group) are bookends for the Days of Awe. Here are poems, prayers, and artworks for Selichot and for Ne’ilah, the near and far thresholds of this holy season. May they help these holidays lift our spirits and open our hearts. And may the new year bring blessing not only to us but to the whole aching world.  

Featuring work by Trisha Arlin, R. Rachel Barenblat, Joanne Fink, R. David Evan Markus, R. Sonja K. Pilz PhD, and Steve Silbert. Available both as a downloadable PDF and as google slides suitable for screenshare. 

Download the PDF:

Gates Open and Closing [PDF]

 

Or access as google slides:

Gates, Open and Closing [Slides]

 

Here’s a glimpse of what’s inside:

Transformation, one of the illustrations by Joanne Fink.

For Selichot:

The gates are opening.
A transition in time:
notice and walk through.

Tonight we open ourselves
to possibility, to becoming
better than we were before…

— R. Rachel Barenblat, “Gates”

*

You search our souls. You know our secrets.
We walked through our lives half asleep.

We sinned before You. Please forgive us…

You search your souls, battered by secrets.
I promised you I’d never slumber nor sleep.

I sinned before You. Please forgive Me…

— R. David Markus, “Our Selichot to God / God’s Selichot to Us”

*

During the month of Elul we ponder and remember,
An illusion of thoughtfulness,
Because underneath the meek apologies lie
Obsession
Resentment
And embarrassments that do
Whatever it is that
Hate
Lies
And ignorance do
To help us create the past…

— Trisha Arlin, “Underneath”

*

This year has been my first one as a mother
I did so much
Most of it never mattered
Because nothing compared to my baby…

— R. Sonja K. Pilz, PhD, “S’lichot: Enough? Enough.”

For Ne’ilah:

Bend the knee and leave the old damage behind.
It is resolved
Or it is not.
It is forgiven
Or it is not.
In any case
Those gates are shut…

— Trisha Arlin, “Aleinu 5782”

*

Keep open the gates
At this time of closing,
For day is turning

And so are we – after too many flew away,
Too soon, leaving too much unsaid and undone,
But for us it’s not too late – not yet…

— R. David Evan Markus, “Don’t Lock the Gates”

*

It is done.
Once again I sealed my destiny.
With the sound of the shofar,
In the red and pink and orange of the sky,
I stand breathless,
Again,
Before You…

— R. Sonja K. Pilz, “Ne’ilah”

*

The end of day.
That doesn’t mean
I’m leaving you…

— R. Rachel Barenblat, “The End of Day”

Download the PDF:

Gates Open and Closing [PDF]

 

Or access as google slides:

Gates, Open and Closing [Slides]

 

      

This collection features liturgy and poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi David Evan Markus, and Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz, and artwork by Joanne Fink and Steve Silbert. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

Tisha b’Av 5781: prayers, poetry, and art for our mourning year

 

 

New from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group comes this collaborative compilation of liturgy, poetry and art for this Tisha b’Av. Here are poems, prayers, artwork, and readings for Tisha b’Av 2021, looking back on the last pandemic year as we sit with what’s broken and nurture the seeds of hope for repair. This offering is organized through the frame of four stages of mourning, evoking both our own personal losses and our communal journey of global grief. Available both as a downloadable PDF and as google slides suitable for streaming / screenshare.

Use them in community — use them to inform your own Tisha b’Av journey — share them widely — we hope they resonate.

(You can find all of the Liturgical Arts Working Group’s offerings on our webpage here.)

Download the collection as a PDF:

9Av 5781 – Our Mourning Year – Bayit [PDF]

 

And/or download the collection as a deck of google slides:

9Av 5781 from Bayit – Our Mourning Year [SLIDES]

 

Here are tastes of what’s here, alongside artwork by Steve Silbert and Joanne Fink:

When my mother died,
I was 3000 miles away
On a teen study trip in England.
I’d said goodbye to her at the airport and never saw her again…

— from “Kria,” Trisha Arlin

So many died in isolation,
intubated, untouchable.
How did the doctors and nurses
bear their despair?
How can we move through the world
when so many are mourning?…

— from “Eicha / How?!,” R. Rachel Barenblat

Stop.
I need to stop. To sit. To feel.
I am not ready to go to a hockey game, or a movie, or a concert.

Not after this. A churban, a destruction…

— from “Shiva,” R. Dara Lithwick

How to hold fear for so long
my shoulders learn a new shape.
How to watch numbers climb
higher, and then higher.
How to hold funerals
and kindergarten
over Zoom…

— From “How To,” R. Rachel Barenblat

We are sitting on the floor
Crawling, playing rattle, monkey, super parents,
Move organizers, breadwinners, challah bakers,
Stroller pushers…
I am sitting on the floor, and the light’s turned off
As night falls…

— From “Rise,” R. Sonja Keren Pilz

Glorious and holy are the possibilities of God.

We’re getting used to the losses
But that’s not the same
As being okay…

— From “Yahrzeit 2021,” Trisha Arlin

Birth pangs can’t hear
The toddler’s first words.
Earthbound magma can’t see
The saplings that will root in ash…

— from “After,” R. David Evan Markus

Download the collection as a PDF:

9Av 5781 – Our Mourning Year – Bayit [PDF]

 

And/or download the collection as a deck of google slides:

9Av 5781 from Bayit – Our Mourning Year [SLIDES]

 

 

        

Liturgy and poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Joanne Fink, Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Rabbi David Evan Markus, Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz.  Artwork by Joanne Fink and Steve Silbert. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

The Lot of One Year: Liturgy, Poetry, and Art for Purim 2021

New from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group comes a collection of poems, prayers, and artwork for this pandemic Purim. Here are meditations on (the) last Purim, and on our many-layered losses; poems on our world turning upside-down, on what our masks reveal, on grief and playfulness, on Esther and on Zeresh, on vengeance and its limitations; another new Al Hanisim looking back on Purim miracles that haven’t yet arrived; illustrations (including a printable coloring page that can be turned into a gragger); and more.

Download the whole collection here:

The Lot of One Year – Purim 2021 [pdf]

 

 

Here are tastes of what you’ll find within. From the introduction:

One year ago, our lives changed.
Purim,
holiday of abundant joy, enjoyment, silliness, and care,
marks the watershed moment between what was once—normal—
and what has become our new life…

From “Last Purim 4,” R. David Markus:

…We didn’t know that weeks later, our area would be a covid epicenter with the nation’s highest death rate. We didn’t know that a year later, the building still would be locked – laughter and Esther trope faintly echoing, an empty Corona bottle on the piano, Purim decorations on the walls, frozen in time like a Twilight Zone episode, sackcloth and ashes for millions dead.

From “Hilchot Purim,” R. Sonja K. Pilz, PhD:

Anoint yourself
Take baths and showers
Let no one you love come close
For twelve months
Or more…

From “When Esther Went In,” R. Rachel Barenblat:

…When she went in, she didn’t know
how she would miss the coffee shop
with its all-day backgammon players
and hum of conversation…

From “Purim Poem #2,” Devon Spier:

…My breath smells of wine
My pockets are filled with
Bad long sentences and
Some ancestor I don’t know’s old crumbs…

From “The 9th Chapter: We Won and They Lost,” Trisha Arlin:

So what happens when we win?
Not by much
And in the nick of time
It so easily could have gone the other way
And though there’s more of us
There’s plenty of them
And they are cruel.
What to do?…

From “On Masks and Revelation,” R. Dara Lithwick:

…But once we had skin and sex and then gender and clothes
We organized into roles
That became rigid and unforgiving
All of us, divine light, now hidden, concealed
Under the burden of the masks we wear…

Download the whole collection here:

The Lot of One Year – Purim 2021 [pdf]

 

  Allie Fischman     

Liturgy and poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi Allie Fischman, Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Rabbi David Evan Markus, Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz, and Devon Spier. Artwork by Rabbi Allie Fischman and Steve Silbert.