By Rabbi Lori Shapiro
Dancing. It moves the body, uplifts the fallen neshama and clears the mind. Like the Sufi spinning in accord with the constellations, Israeli dance captures a small piece of the universe within a small space for a unique period of time. If Shabbat is a Temple in Time, as Abraham Joshua Heschel famously stated, then Dance is the Discipline of the Priests.
It is clear that we are called upon to be Dancers. In Hebrew, there are no fewer than 11 words for dance – Leap! (Dalag), Whirl! (Karar) and the catch all Dance! (Raqad). We should also Alats, Giyl, Pacach, Pazaz, Chagag, Mechowlah, Machowl, and Chiyl – Twist, Whirl, Circle Dance, Dance in Company, March in Procession, Jump, Leap, Skip, Spring, Hop, Skip, Spin under the influence of joy and triumph. Yes, we should dance…we should dance our tuchuses off.
And yet, for many of us, our sedentary society has created an exilic experience with dance. When presented with a dance floor, we feel dis-ease, resistance, malaise. It is as if the barrier of entry for such a flat plain were as high as Mt. Meron.
Well, it’s time to change all of that.
Open Temple is excited to partner with Israeli Dance Choreographer and Instructor David Dassa. David is a living treasure, and the son of living legend Danny Dassa. As David explained to me one recent morning at Zinque, “there are about five dancers around the world who make their living teaching Israeli dance, and I am lucky to be one of them.” David converts the uninitiated into an Israeli dancing machine, leaving community and joy in his wake. Just look at the photo, above. Everyone dancing is smiling.
Open Temple’s core values are Creativity, Love and Truth. We believe that creativity engages all of us in something greater than ourselves. This week’s Torah portion is clear – every one of us has an offering of the heart that only we can give – and in exchange, we will experience Transcendence. The creation of a spiritual community is a covenantal relationship that promises to bring us to life. And at Open Temple, we do that – through the Art of Judaism, Music, Dance, Performance Art and the Word. Verse 25:8 in Parshat Terumah invites us to: “Asu li Mikdash v’shanti b’tocham” – Build for me a Holy Space so I may Dwell Amongst You.”
Open Temple continues to build this Holy Space as an open temple – in our hearts, in our homes, in our community. And through this opening, the Force of Life enters into us, animating us with the life force – what the Torah describes as Godliness – of what it means to be alive. This same force opens our hearts towards acts of loving kindness, it activates the mind towards positive thought, it is the force of human potential for us to enact upon. And all that it takes is that first step.
Come, Dance with Us.
with love and Torah light,