My Experience @ Sukkot On The Farm.
I am deeply moved. Something has really shifted for me. For the past day I have been slowly adjusting to the world that we live in, because for the past 4 days I signed off the grid and for the first time in my life experienced Sukkot in a way that truly connected me with the land. I attended Wilderness Torah’s Sukkot On the Farm, on a little sustainable farm nestled in a valley surrounded by redwood trees, one mile inland and 20 miles north of Santa Cruz. Miracles happened this past week, that were so powerful that they deepened my connection to faith, communal living and mama earth. I really understand that Sukkot is a festival where we harvest our crops and cry out for water to sustain a year of growth. At this festival we created our own water ritual based off the rituals that our sages did during this time of year. The priests would pour water brought from the tribes of israel on a stone located in the temple, and this process would act as a symbol to bring forth the waters that would sustain another season of abundant healthy crops. The only thing more valuable that the torah is water, our life force.
During Saturday morning services one of the biggest miracles of my entire life took place. It all started with the option of attending two different services, an traditional davening experience and an egalitarian musical service. I finished birkot hashachar and was pondering the idea of which service to attend. Based off what I do for a living I chose to attend the egalitarian services, but wanted to both daven and observe from the back of the room. I was praying with my sefard art scroll, when it hit me that if I really want to grow with this community that I should participate by singing their melodies and I can still read in between the lines and still say the entire blessings without having to choose one or the other. The music was so catchy that the men sitting next to me starting chanting a bass section of “baruch she’amar.” We started singing together and swaying our bodies. I put down my book and joined them, soon we were at halleuyah and I was on my feet dancing just like I did at the Carlebach minyinim back in Jerusalem.
Following the shemona Esrei, I caught a group of people running toward the Sukkah with the torah in their hands, saying the rain is coming. All of a sudden one of the heaviest rains I have ever experienced poured out of the sky. It was time for the torah service and both minyinim were meeting for a joint torah service. In a just a few moments the Sukkah was filled with close to 200 people who were all crowding around the torah. The logistics team showed up and started attaching tarpes to the top of the sukkah to protect us and the torah from the rain, then people showed up bearing long sticks to push the water off the tarps. Water poured onto many of the musical instruments and people rushed to move them. The rabbis would say blessings and the rain would fall even harder. Soon everyone was bundled up waiting to hear the torah reading. Zelig, one of the directors told us to be thankful for the rain, because this is what the holiday is celebrating. Where would we go? We all stayed together, repeated every line that was said so we all new what the rabbis were saying. We all stuck together. We listened, we held up shelter and at that moment we were all connected. I felt as if I was a tribesman hearing the chief speak, sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the kicker. The torah service came to a conclusion after a 30 minute time span and then the director guided us to put our hand sup to the sky for gratitude. Right when we all put our hands up the rain stopped. I mean the rain was REALLY POURING, then just stopped?!? How you explain that? This isn’t the “Truman Show.” Or is it? The torah portion, the torah service and the halt of rain was g-d interacting with all of us in that Sukkah. This experience has taught me to let go, and join the community. When the community comes together as one, miracles happen.
After also coordinating a very successful Kabalat Shabbat and Ma’ariv at this years Burning Man, and attending Wilderness Torah’s Sukkot On The Farm, I have a clear vision for the future of Judaism and spiritual practice. I know now how I want to live, and I am going to continue building relationships with like minded people. One day I will live in a community full time like what I experienced this past week.
I finally found my community. They are all over the world. Educated, choice empowered, diverse, all ages, conscious, mystics, 100% tolerant, authentic, tribal, guardians of the earth, deep in gratitude & joy, hands on, high frequency and full of love.
Thank you Wilderness Torah for grounding me with curiosity for the spiritual elements of the land I live on, allowing me to expand on my ritual perspective and practice.