This Spring, Charnice Milton Community Bookstore and We Act Radio are launching reading and conversation with the aim of understanding the workings of oppression and our part in them. We cannot work effectively to end what we do not comprehend. And we cannot act effectively if we feel hopeless, ill-equipped, over-whelmed, and isolated. So, this project is an attempt to address these issues with a shared journey. The journey is based on the Exodus story — not as a text of anyone’s religious covenant but as an engaging and provocative narrative about power and about what happens when disparate groups share the same space.
Rereading Exodus along the Anacostia: some lessons of cross river dialogue, now available as Rereading ebook and paperback Rereading-on-demand. For those local to DC, print copies are also coming soon from BCP Digital, family-run, Black-owned, union shop in nearby Baltimore. Contact WeLuvBooks for details.
Recounting Exodus along the Anacostia: 49 Stages from Narrow Place to What Next? (some lessons of cross river dialogue), a companion volume, is available in installments, beginning on April 16 through the email option.
“Omer along the Anacostia” DAILY EMAIL
in conjunction with Hill Havurah.
Contact omer at Hill Havurah to subscribe.
Profits from ebook and print benefit Charnice Milton Community Bookstore, which supports literacy in DC and provides free books to children, especially east of the river.
More information and peeks inside.
Preface for Rereading Exodus is below.
Here’s a link to part of the “Preliminaries” chapter of Rereading Exodus.
We Act Radio is also launching some radio/video conversations on related topics. We are pursuing virtual discussion groups, too — more on this to come. Sign up here to stay informed as the discussion platforms take shape.
from Preface to ReCOUNTing Exodus:
…This volume is a distillation of key ideas in Rereading Exodus along the Anacostia. Both books use the Exodus narrative — a story important to many aspects of popular culture — as a tool for exploring power, oppression, and clashes of perspectives. The goal is to learn how we got into this “Narrow Place” of inequality, militarism, and racism and how we might get ourselves — all of us — out. Rereading Exodus includes more Jewish and DC-related background.
This format is meant primarily for those who wish to travel 49 stages in the Jewish calendar period that stretches from the second night of Passover through to the holiday of Shavuot. It is organized around 49 chunks of text with an intention for learning, some questions to ponder, followed by the ritual intention and blessing and the daily count.
Hebrew does not easily allow for non-gendered language, although that is changing slowly. Blessings here are offered in forms that allow speakers to choose how to address God and how to identify themselves in terms of gender. Also provided are both the “traditional” intention for counting each day and one that is focused on this particular journey exploring oppression.
Preface to ReREADing Exodus:
Rereading Exodus is a journey, and I appreciate everyone who takes even a few of its steps with me. This book uses Exodus narrative — a story important to many aspects of popular culture — as a tool for exploring power, oppression, and clashes of perspectives. The goal is to learn how we got into this “Narrow Place” of inequality, militarism, and racism and how we might get ourselves — all of us — out.
This book has been in process, in one form or another, since the Before Times. Back then, I fretted that some of what I wrote was too harsh, not “balanced” enough, or just too direct. Today, I am not sure there are words harsh enough for our country’s lethal racial divides. I never deliberately share falsehoods or half-truths; at the same time, however, I recognize no “other side” on when it comes to denying anyone’s humanity and human rights. As for over-directness, I recall a long-ago ballet teacher who told her classes: If you are timid in your presentation, I might miss a dangerous mistake. Whatever you’re doing, do it all the way, and then we can work on corrections together.
…I have hesitated many times in sending this book out to the world. In some ways, the easier course would be to keep my words to myself…or hold out for perfection, its impossibility shielding me from ever finishing. But there are conversations we need to have, and work we need to do. Now. It is my fervent hope that this far-less-than-perfect offering will launch some necessary discussions.
It is not humblebrag to say I am sure there are mistakes in here.There will undoubtedly be typos and nonsense ahead — for those I apologize and hope they are not too distracting. There will also be more serious missteps — for those I hope readers will engage the concepts and let me know where future discussions need shifting, as well as advising me of errors or lack of clarity. — Virginia in DC, March 29, 2022/26 Adar II 5782
“The story of Passover is a journey, and like most journeys,– Lemony Snicket (“Playground”) commentary, New American Haggadah
it is taking much longer than it ought to take,
no matter how many times we stop and ask for directions.”