Ani ohevet chaverot sheli, ki m’deberet evrit!

Every Thursday night I get together with three friends and study modern Hebrew. Our group is eclectic, and generous with shared laughter; our “morah” (Dahlia) is Israeli, dedicated, fiercely intelligent and infinitely patient. She teaches us ‘modern vs Biblical’ Hebrew, insisting that she knows nothing of ‘siddurs and liturgy’. Our interest in prayer and Biblical study never ceases to amaze her secular imagination. She protests that she is a staunch atheist, and yet she goes to the Reform Kehilla (“just for the people of course”), and loves to enter into all manner of interfaith dialogue. I met her, in fact, at such a dialogue, jointly sponsored by Jenny Laing (Kolot Mayim) and Cadboro Bay United Church. Dahlia was quite passionate about the fact that the group never got past the ‘touchy feely stage’ and into the ‘meat’ of Biblical text analysis. However, the experience brought us together, and for that I am eternally grateful. Her humble “talmeedot” love her dearly, and silently grieve her forthcoming departure in September- but never mind that now. For the present we bask in the golden warmth of her humour, and learn to read Israeli newspapers. Perhaps we will even learn to read Israeli cookbooks…now there’s a thought! Every week I try to get her to eat- occasionally she will have a cookie, but she really prefers fruit.
I am intrigued by the strength of her denial of God- I sense that there is more to it than meets the eye. At the same time she embodies so much of what it means to be mensch in this world. She is like a beautiful schooner that has lost its sail and rudder, unable to capture the wind and steer into the horizon. Perhaps in some small way we may be able to help her find and repair the sail.

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