Last week at the Soul Center was filled with firsts:  We tried out our first NIA (post-pandemic) and it was fun.  Really fun.  It felt like a spiritual dance party.  Andrea Lieber brought her usual joy and delight (and a killer playlist) as a room full of people danced and moved as though no one was watching.

Next, we had our first Meet Up At The Movies and headed to Towson to be among the first to see Judy Blume’s book-turned-movie Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.  We all basked in nostalgia about the parts of the movie that we remembered from our own adolescent years, but we also realized that the book wasn’t only about a group of middle school girlfriends trying to find their way in friendships, puberty, relationships, first kisses, and adolescence as we had remembered it.  There was another central storyline – Margaret searching for G-d, a religious community, and a feeling of belonging during her early teenage years. We hadn’t remembered this theme at all!  We hadn’t remembered that Margaret had a Christian mother and a Jewish father, and that her parents opted not to choose a religion for her, instead deciding to let Margaret choose her own religion when she was older.  We also hadn’t remembered that Margaret was longing to have G-d in her life (hence the title) and began an on-going conversation with G-d (like the practice of hit’bodedut – an unscripted personal conversation). We hadn’t remembered her visit to a synagogue with her Jewish grandmother, or her visit to a church with her friend, or her trying out confession on an after school visit to a church. We won’t say more (lest we spoil things for you) but suffice to say, there was a lot to unpack. It was a great night. And if you missed it – don’t worry, we’re planning to keep doing Movie Meet-Ups all summer long.

Next, came Laura Black.  Laura came to the Soul Center and packed the house as she and Rabbi Saroken sat down together to discuss her new book Climbing Down the Ladder.  People loved the book. We laughed together and we listened in and learned as Laura spoke about her own life story (opportunities and challenges, highs and lows), and about her professional ascent and descent.  She also spoke about how she’s finding meaning, purpose, happiness and fulfillment in the post-work chapter of her life.  Whether or not you joined us last week – you can still jump in for Laura’s two upcoming lunchtime workshops on The Stories We Tell Ourselves and The Wheels Of Our Lives.

Most of all – we’re hoping that the week ahead has enough happening to make you feel happy and alive without feeling that bit of overwhelm that May can oftentimes bring.  If you’re looking for activities to make you smile – see our offerings below.  If you’re looking for night time activities now that the days are longer – Joe Buchanan, a Jewish country singer (spectacular!) will be singing tomorrow night on Lag B’Omer, Six the Musical is playing at the Hippodrome, and for Broadway fans Audra McDonald and Seth Rudetsky will be appearing on Thursday at Live!  And if you just need to be outside in nature and moving your body – we’re starting up an in-person yoga class with Nila on Wednesday morning in the pavilion.  There’s nothing better than doing a downward dog or shavasana while the birds sing and the warm, gentle breezes blow.  Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!

Soulfully Yours,
Rabbi Dana Saroken & Julie Hettleman


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