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Congregation Beth HaTephila

An Engaging, Inclusive, Reform Congregation in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Between You and Me - November 2021

When he was growing up, I used to say that if Gabriel’s head wasn’t attached, he’d leave it somewhere. We always had to write his name in his clothing because he’d leave a trail of his stuff behind wherever he went.  One summer in Vermont, we had to drive forty-five minutes back to the laundromat where he left a special bookmark his teacher had made for him.  Not so long ago, Gabe’s wallet went missing.  A month later, his friends found it in their car, but only after he’d gone to the trouble of replacing his driver’s license and debit card.  Thankfully, Gabriel’s penchant for losing things was mostly matched by Mark’s ability to find things.  Backpacks, phone chargers, Airpods, water bottles oftentimes could be quickly recovered when we put Mark on the case.  He considers himself a master finder.  In a strange way, the two of them together mostly balanced each other out. 

There is a Talmudic legend that there was a large stone in the middle of the ancient city of Jerusalem called the “Claimant’s Stone.”  Anyone who lost something would be directed there to declare that they were looking for the item.  Similarly, those who found lost objects would bring them to the stone and declare that they had found the item.  In that place and upon that stone those who have lost and those who have found would seek out each other. 

In my mind, it is not an overstatement to say that we’ve lost a lot during these months of the pandemic.  Some of us have lost loved ones.  Others have lost livelihoods.  We’ve lost friendships and social connections.  We’ve lost routines.  Compounding these losses is the feeling of being lost without the ability to do the things we love.  My grandfather treasured waking up early every morning to go to the bakery for morning pastries.  I can only imagine how he would have felt living for 20 months without that precious daily ritual.  As a devotee of group exercise, I still haven’t found satisfying ways to sustain a rigorous exercise practice.  Losses like these that seem insignificant, can still make us feel very out of balance. 

The closest thing to a Claimant Stone that I can point to during this time of loss and feeling lost is our Temple.  If you are feeling lost and ungrounded, come to Temple.  Come to temple if you are not feeling lost, because someone there needs you to find them, to remind them they are not alone.  If you’ve fallen out of the routine, try to find your way back because all of us are seeking the way back to experiencing equilibrium and balance.  The Talmudic legend makes a lot of sense to me: there is a place where seekers and finders come to exchange their lost and found, and in the process, they find each other and themselves again.  Your Temple is your Claimant’s Stone. 

Sun, October 2 2022 7 Tishrei 5783