It is time. Join me in rereading the Book of Exodus — and this is an invitation for regular Bible readers and those who never open it, Jews and non-Jews — and considering systems of oppression around us in order to make some needed changes in our world toward joint liberation for all.
Prelude to this Stage
For years I have struggled with how the Book of Exodus, and the Passover story — which is, in the straight biblical narrative, a violent parting of oppressor and oppressed — relate to the world around me and my role in it.
In 2015, I was particularly puzzled, in part because I kept hearing predominantly white communities of Jews repeat stories from 50 years earlier when some Jews stood prominently with Martin Luther King at Selma and in other Civil Rights efforts, while Black people, non-Jews and Jews, around me insisted that something new was required and grew increasingly impatient with the tepid response of many Jewish communities to Black Lives Matter, then often and loudly in the streets.
So, that year, I used the period of the Sefira — the counting up from Passover toward Shavuot, discussed in Daily Note 8 — to study and write about oppressive systems, how they work and how we might dismantle them, and how Jews of previous generations and centuries had approached the Book of Exodus. I hoped doing so would help me learn something entirely new at Shavuot and that others would join me in that journey. (See “Song Every Day,” make the Omer count)
Five years later I think I know a tiny bit more. And maybe a few people who chose to journey with me learned something as well. But it was clear before the Rona/COVID-19 that there is much yet to learn and SO MUCH more to do….
Coalition and Redemption, Rereading Exodus
Last year, as part of my learning effort, I wrote a book about Exodus, Coalition and Redemption, sharing some of what I’d learned over the previous four years. At the time I called it a Beta Version expecting I would rewrite. I was in the midst of completing a new draft when the pandemic engulfed us. And the Rona/COVID-19 has only made the situation worse and more urgent.
The new book, Rereading Exodus Toward Joint Liberation: A 49-stage journey from the underbelly of the nation’s capitol, follows the Sefira/Counting journey between Passover and Shavuot. Part 1, with 24 of the 49 stages, is complete. I continue to gather and order material for Part 2 and invite suggestions and written contributions.
Meanwhile, I began these audio programs as part of an effort to make the book more accessible to more people — including those for whom podcasts are easier and more convenient than reading, more compatible with washing the dishes, for example, or getting a little exercise. And some people, I still struggle to learn, do not love the written word in the same way that I do.
The Rereading for Liberation Journey
Each day’s thought includes a brief commentary on a few words or a theme in the Book of Exodus — many specifically focused on perspectives from Southeast Washington DC — along with questions to ask ourselves as we progress in our thinking toward joint liberation.
There are now several ways of joining me on this path.
- Download Part 1 of Rereading Exodus and follow along via text
- Subscribe to the daily podcast
- Subscribe to this blog
The book Rereading Exodus is available for a small charge from Lulu.
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Because the Sefira commandment is to COUNT, ritually, with a blessing, we have to start with knowing where we are, that is, what number we counted the previous day.
So, if someone has lost their place and asks where we are in the count, we tell them what number we already counted the day before. That way, we can recite the proper count for the first time AFTER orienting ourselves and reciting the blessing.
This yesterday-focused practice can serve as a reminder that we are always arriving from where we’ve been. It can prompt us to consider yesterday before we mark the new day and the number of weeks that have passed. In addition, it can focus us on where we are, how far we’ve come, in the journey between Liberation and Revelation.
Note on Jewish holidays
For those who observe Jewish holidays by signing off electronics, or who just want to be prepared, I am including a few advance pages to facilitate getting started while off-line for chag and Shabbat. Podcasts still to come.
Join in the learning journey and encourage others, too.