Thursday, October 25, 2018

Paper Midrash at Temple Israel of Long Beach

The obligatory selfie out front

Rabbi Shawna had an amazing Paper Midrash weekend at Temple Israel of Long Beach this past weekend – praying, studying, and creating with the whole community. What a pleasure it is to be able to find so many different ways to connect with people, no matter what they're into; it's the secret to the best Paper Midrash weekend, really: bring us in for a weekend and let us do EVERYTHING with EVERYONE.

What did that include in Long Beach?

Accompanist David York at the piano under the VT screen

Lech L'cha and Star Trek: a beautiful intersection

Friday night Rabbi Moskowitz and Cantor Hass led services with our "Paper T'filah Visual T'filah" (now available for purchase from the CCAR web site), and Rabbi Shawna and I gave a visual sermon on parasha hashavua called "Lech L'cha: Boldly Go."

Yes, that's the The Thing becoming an adult bar mitzvah in that comic panel

Saturday morning we spent time with the pre-b'nai mitzvah students and their parents, talking about "Getting More Out of Your Torah Portion" by studying midrash and talking about the deeper meaning in Lech L'cha – as an analogous process to what they'll all be going through when they have to write and teach about their Torah portions when they become b'nai mitzvah.

Rabbi Shawna working with the adults in our workshop

Saturday afternoon we led a papercutting workshop for adults in the congregation. It's always wonderful to see how we can all start with the same bit of text, but have such different and fascinating midrash we make from them.

Abraham is told to "count the stars in the sky"

"You shall be a blessing."

Abram and Sarai head out on their journey

Finding just the right comic books to tell our stories

Sarah will be the mother of a great nation

From Abram and Sarai setting out on their journey, becoming Abraham and Sarah... filling in gaps in the narrative, addressing apparent contradictions and exploring word choices... some very thoughtful Torah and midrash came out of the workshop.

Talking about the patriarchs (Siegel, Shuster, Lee, Kirby)

Saturday night at the house of a congregant Rabbi Shawna and I gave a presentation (with slides!) about Jews in the comic book industry, which we call "People of the (Comic) Book." Jewish comic writers like Stan Lee, artists like Jack Kirby and Siegel & Shuster, and publishers like Max Gaines... Jewish heroes like Ragman and Moon Knight and Batwoman... and some hilarious "Jewish-adjacent" moments from Spider-Man, Robin, and more... we could have talked all night (but there was wine and cheese to be enjoyed). It's an incredible little history lesson, filled with connections between the Jewish tradition and stories of heroes trying to save the world... and how and why so many Jews got involved in a tiny little industry and made it the powerhouse it is today.

At work in our high school workshop

Sunday morning we led a workshop for the Temple Israel high school students, and again: same Torah portion, but so many new ideas!

So many paths to consider, so much responsibility

A student searching for meaning in comic books

The journey to a land God has shown them

A student with his superhero midrash

After the workshop, the students taught each other their midrash

And we had a little pop-up gallery going in the lobby and social hall all weekend, for people to see my work up close. A big thanks to Sharon Amster Brown and Temple Israel for bringing us out, and to everyone in the community who came to pray, study, and create with us!

My three "dreamers" in the pop-up gallery

Friday, October 12, 2018