I have so much to say that I don’t even know where to begin.
My heart and soul is full of anguish over the war in Israel. Despite the peace of summer in Austin, I experience constant quickening daily via my constant contact with my many loved ones there (including my daughter Julia, stuck in Tel Aviv due to cancelled flights). My head is bursting with all the new things I’ve learned from a myriad of experiences–academic classes, travels in Italy and Israel, caring for aging parents, documenting the move of a synagogue from the town of Brenham to our campus, and attendance to my first Limmud conference. I know that many of you, too, have major transitions and events happening in your lives, and through you I learn about the variety of concerns in both our immediate universe and in the world. Immigrants, new jobs/new challenges, moves, aging parents, children.
Quickly, the Lowdown
That class (The Problem of Evil–Hebrew College online) was a mind-bender. We went from Genesis Chapter 1 through the Tanach; through rabbinic texts, over Maimonides, around the Kabbalists of Spain and Israel, under the Enlightenment, and then grounded at post-Holocaust writings. It took a month for me to write my final paper and it’s still not finished. (Though you’ll be relieved to know I made an “A,” The pride of schoolgirl lives!) I was ready to teach it, Evil, and you were all interested. Before I left for Italy, I didn’t get a chance to write to everyone to firm up plans. And it’s probably a good thing, because in Italy, I had an experience that bookended the Evil class. After the Arch of Titus and the Vatican Museum (don’t get me started), Eddie and I visited Pompeii. Relieved by archeologists in modernity of its ash blanket-burial, the vulgarities of an extant (and corrupt) Roman city revealed themselves in the form of pre-modern advertisements–penises on the street signs to point to the house of prostitution, arguably the largest structure in town after the baths. We climbed Mt. Vesuvius (on our 14th wedding anniversary–what better way to celebrate marriage than to climb an active volcano!). I picked up a laval rock to put on my desk, a reminder of what some theologians have said is the potential for G-d’s justice.
It’s a sort of madness, this exploration of evil. After some reflection, I concluded it may not be for everyone, and that it would take a long term group to study it. So, I didn’t forget my offering. I am simply letting it rest until I have talked to each of you individually about it.
Learning about Adult Learning
The 8-week course could be summed up this way: adults have complicated lives; life experience; memories; old beliefs–about themselves, their families and their worlds. Education for adults must be relevant. It must be presented in ways that can travel set paths with tools that will enlighten so that new sparks will carry the strength to groove new pathways. This process, if done well, can extend life and health.
So, I have been thinking a lot about our learning circles, and trying to figure out how to continue learning with you all. With people who have moved; with people who have expressed needs or particular things they want to learn. Trying to keep up with who has studied what? There are some new fellow learners in the wings–have I forgotten anybody?