Okay, so, remember Ghostbusters? Yeah, the 1984 comedy starring Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudon, Bill Murray, Sigorney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and Slavitza Jovan. I was born in 1979, so Ghostbusters was just a little early for me to fully appreciate in the theater, but it surely was a constant at the rental store and on TV.
Team Barak (thunder), Kadima’s youth b’mitzvah cohort, watched Ghostbusters together as a special movie night last spring in honor of a bat mitzvah for parashat Pekudei (it was a double portion last year paired with Vayakhel). Shout out to the Lieberman-Cohen family as it was their second COVID bat mitzvah in eleven months at that point. Phew.
In returning to Pekudei this week, the mishkan is finally completed after months and months of preparation and building. The connection to spiritual architecture prompts my brain to connect this week’s Torah to the 1984 classic where 550 Central Park West was built as a portal to harness the presence of Gozer the Gozerian, a gender-queer “god of the Hittites, Mesopotamians, and the Sumerians around 6000 BCE” (according to the fandom page I found).
Yes, your rabbi is still talking about Ghostbusters. Is it Purim already?! No, but Adar II begins today - Chodesh Tov - and we are told to increase our joy throughout the month, and connections to my favorite childhood movies do it for me, among other things. (Do they hold up?!?! Arguable. Do they fail to question and fight oppression?! Um, sadly all too often.) Society has perhaps progressed at least a smidge (in some ways) since maybe any of us were kids (and not others). See here for the sexism and intersectional feminism associated with not only the 1984 original, but its 2016 counterpart (perhaps a lighter way to spend some time this Women’s History Month?).
TORAH CONNECTION HERE
But hear me out? A group of people in ancient times built a physical structure to harness the power and attract the presence of their deity. Their deity was partial to those who worshiped itself and only it, and sometimes wiped out those who did not. Am I talking about Gozer and Their followers or Adonai and Theirs?! Alas.
This month, there are maybe dates that ask us to see things from various perspectives, so much so that maybe our worldview could be upturned. Here is a partial list, but mostly, I ask us: what are we reading, watching, listening to, talking about, experiencing, and with whom, that might shake us loose from the calcified ways we have been thinking, feeling, learning, and doing? This is a core question of Adar II, the half-way point from Yom Kippur to Yom Kippur, and the halfway marker in our precious once-in-seven-years shmita gift.
- 2nd of Adar II - the month anniversary of the passing of Kadima co-founder Shulamit Decktor z”l
- 8th of March - International Women’s Day & the Anniversary of the 1910 strike beginning by the International Ladies’ Garment Union in NYC
- 10th of March - Abortion Care Provider Appreciation Day
- 9th of Adar II - Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict
- 13th of Adar II - the Fast Day in Solidarity with Queen Esther
- 14th of Adar II - Purim (in non-walled cities)
- 15th of Adar II - Shushan Purim (in walled cities)
- 17th of March - the 100th Anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah & the final Mourner’s minyan remembering Maury Handler, father of Shelby & Zoe
- 19th of March - Kadima student Harper Holt becomes a b’mitzvah
- 20th of March - the Spring Equinox
- 24th of March - first ACT-UP Action
- 25th of March - anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
- 30th of March - Palestinian Land Day (anniversary of the 2018 Great March of Return)
- 31st of March - Trans Day of Visibility
Finally, connected or not, here are some Jewish connections to the invasion of Ukraine, see Jewish Currents, Friends of Sabeel NA, Amy Goodman, Jon Stewart, or Vladimir Zelensky himself - also see this list of resources from Irene Katz Connelly at the Forward.
And, an Israel Studies update from the UW administration, from the graduate students associated with the Israel Studies Program; Becky Benaroya in her own words; more
As we navigate these times, may we find empathy and connection, and maybe active or reflective listening wouldn’t hurt either. May the world be turned upside down, as it says in Esther 9:1: “and it was made opposite.” Let us prepare for the upending, for all the ways it might help us celebrate, and for all the ways it might be disorienting, let us have patience, care, and connection. May we continue to do it, together.
Joy-committed despite and because of it all,
PS- Not interested in joy during these times? Try some different takes on joy to maybe reframe joy (spoiler, maybe Jewish joy is not a synonym of happiness).
 Resources I have been looking through to understand the invasion of Ukraine, the homeland of my Zeyda Moishe and generations of my family, include, with thanks to Sarah Tuttle, this list:
 For some local news related to Israel/Palestine, see this colleague letter of support for UW Israel Studies professor Liora Halperin, and Jewish Currents reporting about the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle refusing to direct funding to Israeli human rights group B'tselem. Thanks to Seattle-born Helen Bennett for sharing these stories!