Welcome to Below the Bible Belt.
Here's what, why and how...
Ever worked on a giant jigsaw puzzle that took three years to complete? Here’s your opportunity... We begin today, June 12th 2022.
I invite you to join me on a 3+ years-long journey in which we'll radically discuss the entire Hebrew Bible, a chapter a day, online. The pieces will come together to reveal, I hope, the bigger picture of our complex legacy with important lessons for our inner lives.
Welcome to ‘Below the Bible Belt’!
With each daily written reflection, weekly video, and monthly study session, we’ll be exploring the lesser known origins, repressed pagan past, mythic mysteries, and what meanings this complicated book may offer our modern realities. You can drop in at any time or join me for the full ride. I will be posting each daily entry in both English and Hebrew.
Why, you may wonder? How will this work exactly?
The why is personal. For me, reading the Bible from A-Z is a way to talk back to the problematic, often painful, patriarchal aspects that are part of this cannon, but are not what its core is all about. I grew up in a religious Jewish household, where the Bible is literally read as God’s word, not to be refuted. But as I grew older, came out gay, and started questioning the text and context of my inherited culture I realized that the Bible is not a closed book, and was written by people, likely men, who had specific agendas. Some of those agendas and choices no longer align with our modern values of dignity and justice for all living beings on this earth.
I also realized that multiple meanings co-exist, and that continuous commentary and interpretive readings, with the use of history and archeology, mystical poetry and psychological theories can reimagine the Bible as a meaningful member of our contemporary cultural conversation, a building block of our civilization with lots to offer each and every one of us.
One option is to disregard the good old book as an ancient relic. But another option is to take it on, chapter by chapter, re-translate, wrestle with its meaning, add our voices to the generations of interpreters and not leave it in the hands of those who claim its truth and authority over others. You know who I mean. It’s on us to claim, reclaim and own this text - on our terms, as we are, queering the sacred and challenging the toxic and racist, misogynistic, binary and limited belief systems of yore - with the colorful and courageous spectrum of meanings that many of us bring to this text, to our religious reality, to the political arenas of our lives.
The 929 Project began in Israel 7 years ago, with the intention of opening the Bible to a wider audience than its usual readers, with daily readings by teachers and artists, scholars and thinkers from across the spectrum. Over the course of 3 1/2 years the entire book is read and studied by thousands of people and small groups.
A few months ago the third cycle began, and as I was on Sabbatical, with some time to recalibrate my priorities and choices, I decided to hop on the wagon and commit to the full cycle, studying and posting a reflection on each daily chapter.
It’s been inspiring and fascinating, I’ve learned a lot from each chapter and the lesser known hidden gems, and enjoyed sharing these brief postings on my Instagram.
I especially enjoy the tough spots, speed bumps and challenging stories and concepts in some of the chapters read so far. That’s where the opportunity to unravel, reveal and repair is most resonant. There’s a quote in the Talmud that speaks to this: “One does not understand words of Torah until one has stumbled (lit. stood on) over them.” Only from stumbling and grappling with our past do we rise and repair our legacy for the future.
Today we complete Exodus, the second book of Torah, 90 chapters into the project. Exodus ends in a cloud, a stumbling block - and an invitation: How do we handle the unknown? How/when will we open to the sacred call for growth L ? The next chapter is around the corner, calling us to be patient and to step up and show up.
There are 839 chapters left and this coming Sunday we will begin Leviticus, The Book of the Calling. It is traditional in some Jewish communities to begin teaching children Torah - from the third book onwards, and not from Genesis. There are multiple reasons but mostly it’s about the invitation to the tent, to the mystery and to what the ancient sacrificial system means as metaphor to our inner lives.
So this coming Sunday, June 12, I officially invite you to enter the tent of time with me, and hear the call to adventure. (If you want to catch up on the first 90 chapters - check 'em here.)
Daily postings will be offered Sunday-Thursday, viewable on social media (Facebook and Instagram), in your inbox, or on my homepage.
Each Friday I will post a short video wrapping up the essential highlights from the week, including comments and reflections shared by viewers and readers.
Once a month we’ll gather for an hour long zoom session - to share learning and questions, feedback and thoughts. Information about registering for those sessions will be included in the daily posts beginning on Sunday.
In addition to reading my short reflections you are of course invited to read the entire chapter by yourself, come up with your own questions, or even start a small study group with others.
Together, for the next three years, I hope we delve deeper into what’s below the Bible belt, and what’s waiting to be discerned deep within our minds and hearts.
I’m very grateful to the team at Lab/Shul and JewFolk for supporting this project and enabling all the tech/design elements to be as easily accessible as possible. My deep thanks to the folx at 929 for inspiring so many of us to take the Bible on, one chapter at a time.
Ready to unroll the scroll?
Here’s today’s reflection -- with a cliffhanger to lead us from Exodus into Leviticus, suspended by a cloud.
Subscribe to daily posts in your inbox HERE.
Read on Facebook, Instagram or my website.
Questions? Email me.
I hope that this journey bring us blessings, surprises, and a jigsaw puzzle of profound wisdom, with pieces coming together to celebrate more peace and meaning in our lives.