Shalom, shalom shalom, everybody and welcome to this very special minisode of the light lab podcast. My name is Eliana Light and we are back with our co host friends Cantor Ellen Dreskin.
Hello. Very nice to be together again.
And Rabbi Josh Warshawsky.
Hello! So good to be back!
So good to be back. We missed you so much. It's so nice for all of us to be here together in this time that we call acharey hachagim, after the holidays. In the month of Cheshvan, happy Cheshvan to everyone happy Cheshvan. Happy month of no holidays often called bitter Cheshvan, but I bet it's feeling sweet for some of us. And since we're all back together, really just want to check in what's on your heart this Cheshvan? How are you? How are you feeling? What's in your life right now? Josh, why don't we start with you?
Well, it's great to be back. It's great to see your faces. Again, I know, most listeners, you can't see our faces. But it's really great to be back together on the screen. And it's great to be back together with our voices too. I was taking a little time, we had a baby a couple of months ago, we're spending a lot of time together, that was really, really special. And so now, now that the new year has started, it kind of feels like an interesting transition period of both, you know, starting to get back to work and starting to get back to all those things. But also, I had been thinking about, I'm not traveling as much this year as I had been in the past. So trying to think about any projects or ideas and things that I had sort of put by the wayside and trying to actualize some of that in the world, which is both exciting, and a little scary. It's always hard to start something. But I'm excited to have the time now, I think, to be able to be doing some of those things. And one of those is getting back to this. So happy to be back here.
Yay. And we will of course share about all the amazing things that you're doing with our listeners. What you said reminded me of a concept, I think I heard of first from Ze Frank who was one of the first like video essayist slash bloggers, vloggers that I was into, and like, I don't know, 2005, 2006 the greatest jump is from zero to one. That's the hardest one.
Yeah, that very much resonates. Yes.
So here's here's to the jump from zero to one, helping each other through it. Amen. Ellen, how is your heart?
Wow, my heart is well thank you. It feels pretty good. Cheshvan for me is, I try to think of it like after this huge month of immersion really, two months of immersion if you count Elul in whatever this season means for you or however it it lands for you. I like to feel like Cheshvan is, okay this is the the new me or the the little bit evolved me perhaps, and that Cheshvan is free of of that immersion so that I can take this, this new me out for a spin and say, okay, here we are, sailing off into the new year. And so there's, I go into it very energetically, and seeing what happens.
I really love that, right? Why do all of this work on ourselves if we're not going to then bring ourselves out into the world? Yeah, Cheshvan for me, is also this time of creating routines in a life that doesn't really lend itself to having a routine. And I know in the past, I've tried to be very strict with myself and to say every day we're going to wake up and we're going to do these five things. It doesn't last very long, though. Mostly because I think as human beings, our needs change day to day, our appetites change, our energy level changes. We all go through cycles. And so I'm in a place of, how do I work on building some sort of routine. Also, like you Josh, I'm traveling less and pretty happy about that, even though of course I love to travel and work with different communities and go see new places. I'm also finding it really rewarding to be grounded here where I am. I've also been mulling over in my mind, something I learned from one of my water aerobics instructors. You didn't think that I'd go there did you - ha. I haven't in a while because I was on a lovely vacation and then I got a cold. But before that when I'm home, I started going to water aerobics almost every day and it's been incredible. It's incredible to move joyfully without pain, I must say. And one day our regular teacher wasn't available, and we had someone who did Nia in the water. I had never heard of Nia. Nia is a movement slash mindfulness slash exercise practice that they offer at our local JCC. And the woman who led it was very sweet. And something she said, when we were working on different parts of the body, like moving the torso or moving the hips, she said, isolate to integrate. And the light bulb came on above my head. And I thought, that's it. That's what I've been trying to say. That's what we've been trying to say about these moments that we go into, about prayer, about blessing. We focus on one thing in particular, whether it's one time like Shabbat, 25 hours, whether it's one thing we are about to do or eat, when we say a blessing, we focus on one thing, so that we can pull it back into our lives into the rest of the world. And I think the chagim are like that on a larger scale. We're isolating this time, so that we can integrate it but you have to have the integration. Otherwise, the things that you learned or experienced don't become a part of you. So I've been mulling that over a lot, very grateful to my Nia instructor friend, for the phrase isolate to integrate. And you might hear me say that more now as time goes on, we can add that to the bingo board, which maybe should be a question in our check in or check in what's on the bingo board, because my friends this is a special minisode because it's our one year anniversary! Yay! Everybody's making wohoo, excited noises. It's our one year anniversary. Here are some numbers. In the past year of the Light Lab Podcast, there have been over 8000 listens. People have listened to the podcast 8000 times. It's a big number, that kind of bowls me over. I
It's a big number.
I'm like, it's a big number. Listeners, you're great. We've done 33 full episodes, two of those episodes being live episodes, which we're excited to do more of. We've also had already 17, I believe, amazing guests.
That is amazing.
Pretty sweet. It's been really sweet. Yeah, so I just want to give us some time to reflect on on the past year of being part of the pod.
33 episodes is great. 33 in gematria is gal, it's a wave. This is like we built momentum over the last year and we're continuing to move forward. We're reaching out and searching where the wave is going to take us as we move from year one into the beyond. Gal.
Gal. Okay, everybody cross off on your bingo board, Josh does gamatria.
Ah, amen to that. That was worth the price of admission right there.
Gal, gal, indeed, the wave bringing with us what we have done into the future. So, so excited to be on this journey with the two of you. And also with all of you, our listeners. I'm wondering for both of you, because I've thought about this sometimes. Has, has doing the podcast, like what effect has it had on your life? Specifically on maybe your prayer life, liturgical life, Jewish life, but in general, like, what has this been like for you? Josh want to start?
Yeah, you know, in some ways, it doesn't, it doesn't come across in my day to day life as I'm sort of walking around or whenever I pick up my not daily, but trying to be as often as possible prayer practice. But they're, you know, especially because now we're in our Amidah series, whenever I whenever I get into some of those blessings in the middle of the Amidah, which I think I'd never really spent very much time where, I learned them when I was in day school, like in third or fourth grade and maybe at Camp also, we spent like a unit at over the summer of like looking at each bracha, like writing about it or doing a poster or something like that, but hadn't spent so much time thinking about any of those things since and getting to jump in deep and explore the meaning of those and also the order of the brachot and why they're in there together and how they all relate to each other and connect. It allows me to when I, when I get to any of those spaces to actually notice things I had never noticed before or find new connections. Getting to the mi chamocha section before that. I just think that just any of the times that I've gotten to approach those tefillot in this context has opened me up to when I encounter them later on, just opening up the Siddur I noticed something or I remember something and it comes back to me in a much more fluid way. And so I've been really appreciative of that.
I love that that blurring of the lines of - in storytelling, you want to know your story so well that it just comes through you and you're not reading off a page necessarily. And, and I feel like, as I hear things that we've spoken about on the podcast, coming out of my own mouth as part of a teaching in front of a group, then I'd say a little - Oh, yeah, thank you. I'm very grateful. And, and I realized that it's affected not just my prayer life, but the preparation for the podcast and recording the podcast, somehow, it is part of my spiritual practice. And so it helps me to stay at a different energy level, or to be to stay awake, I don't know what we might call it. But I know that it is seeping in. It's being integrated. God, you know, I should hope so, perhaps on a good day. And I'm feeling that I'm feeling that. That this is something very integrative to the rest of my life that we're doing here. And I'm really appreciative.
I definitely agree with both of you, Josh, I find that the tefillot, the liturgical pieces that we've studied and looked at together, take on a whole new meaning when I encounter them in the Siddur. And I'm really grateful for that. And Ellen, I also find that the process of study and of being together keeps these questions at the front of my mind more than they might be otherwise, which means I'm looking at other things also through this kind of light lab lens. Like if I come across something in Hebrew that's translated, maybe I'll be less quick to be like, Oh, this doesn't mean something to me, and maybe say, wait a minute, what are some other translations? What is something that's sticking out to me? Can I, I looked recently, someone asked me to bring - Ben Pagliaro, if you're listening, asked me to bring a text to a meeting, we were doing a Torah text and to look at it through a light lab lens, which I hadn't even thought to do. So we're building something here that also has impacted me. I think another thing from coming and being in touch with the liturgy so strongly, that was reflected to me by your friend and mine, Chava Mirel, I don't exactly remember exactly what she said. But what I took away from it is, the deeper in love you fall with the liturgy, the less of it you want to do. Which is 100% true. The more that I fall in love with our tradition, the longer I want to linger on every paragraph, or phrase, or a word, or a letter, and just be there. And so I think, especially over the High Holidays, I really felt that tension of gosh, there's a lot of amazing words to say. And also, I don't feel like I have the time, or the space in my head, in my heart, to grasp all of these amazing words. What is it like to hold both of those things, and I think the podcast and hopefully the other learning that we're going to be doing can create space for that, which isn't in a prayer context itself, so that you can integrate it back in, but also thinking about what - what does it mean to hold space for being more intimately with the liturgy, the more we get to know it? Wondering also, as we look back on the year, do you have a favorite moment, maybe a favorite guest or topic from this past year?
Wow, I was trying to go back and think about that. And I looked back at some of our outlines. And I gotta say that, it's, there are a lot of episodes where I feel like we open a lot of doors. I think that in one short amount of time, we can do gematria, and the sounds of the letters coming out of our mouths and origin stories and Midrash and melodies and meditation all in a very short amount of time. And I think it's kind of a microcosm of what we're trying to do in terms of, like I say, throwing open doors, and trying to engage on all sorts of different levels. And I really appreciate that.
So do I. Holding up, right holding up the gems of our liturgy to the light and seeing what shines out? And there is so much, I think, every time we do an episode, that's on a small piece of text, there's a part of me that's like, we're really gonna have an hour's worth of stuff to say about this? And then that quickly shifts to we only have an hour to talk about this? Like it's a shift!
The facets of each prayer that we hold it up to the light and then just you know, twist it this way or that way ever so slightly and whole new, whole new world.
I totally agree. I think back to like the those beginning Amidah episodes where like, when I tell people about the podcast and I explained how deep we go, how the first episode was Adonai Sefatai Tiftach, and the second episode was Baruch Atah Adonai, and the third episode was the next three, we just, we really, really got deep and so I like thinking about those ones. And then it's also been a real joy to get to listen to some of the interviews that I wasn't able to be a part of. The one that came to mind most quickly was the two episodes that you did with with Rabbi Steve Sager. And who was a person who I'd never really got taken to encounter his, his Torah, and getting to hear especially I know your relationship with him Eliana and getting to learn and experience some of that through you. And know that story has been, it was really, that was really cool to listen to.
Thanks. Thanks for bringing that up. It was so, it was so beautiful and heartbreaking. It was the last time that we spoke.
Yeah. And we kind of knew that even though the whole time, we were saying, can't wait to do this again, we can't wait to connect again. And I feel like his spirit, hopefully we're bringing forward he - and we'll link it in the show notes. He and his wife created an organization called Sicha which means conversation, which he was bringing people together in conversation around Jewish texts in Jewish life, particularly around Hebrew poetry, which he was enamored with and passionate about, and wrote his own translations for. And I hope we can keep some of that spirit going in his memory. I was also thinking about some of the interviews, and in particular, the one, Ellen that you and I did with Larry Hoffman comes to mind, first of all, that I only feel comfortable calling him, Larry, and not like, Rabbi Dr. Lawrence, is because you have such this personal connection to him. And I learned so much from him. And many of the things he said, were surprising to me, I did not expect it. But him saying at the end that he feels excited and hopeful about the future of Jewish life and Jewish spiritual life and prayer life made me very happy because it can very be very easy, sometimes people fall into doom and gloom, when we're basing it off of, you know, certain synagogues' attendance numbers, and not looking at the larger picture. And it was a reminder that the work that we're doing isn't new, we're just carrying on from the legacies of those who came before us in an attempt to bring light to the liturgy and make our prayer practices accessible. So that was definitely one of my favorites. And wondering, yeah, what are your hopes and excitements as we move towards the future?
I'm really excited to just keep doing this work. I'm excited to eventually finish our Amidah project. I'm so excited to make our way through at some point, maybe in year four. So I'm excited for that. I'm excited for the possibilities of expanding some of the work that we're doing. We were just talking before we got into the recording about how to expand into sharing some weekly prayer thoughts and things like that. And so to be able to explore this and share it with more people. And I'm hoping that we can use this to deepen our own connections into the connections of the people who are listening and participating with us. And getting in conversation with some of those people, too. We were talking about Eliana, I'm sure, we'll at some point about those ideas also.
It's so funny because you send out these questions in advance Eliana, and so I made some notes, because there were things that I wanted to make sure and mention. We didn't talk about what we were going to say, each say is responses, but my notes say, I really hope that conversations like this will continue to take place. And not only with us, although that's outstanding and fun and lovely, in whatever forums, in any listener finds themselves to be striking up conversations that, that they're energizing, and that you let us know that we really want to be in conversation. And to know that, you know, to sa - Gee, I can't stop thinking about that last podcast, or I don't know that I'm ever going to look at that word, again, in the same way, is really what we're looking for. And so it's nice to continue all of that.
100%. And in that vein, really exciting listeners that it should be live, now, if you look at your show notes, you can join our Light Lab Podcast Facebook group, I'm not exactly sure what we're going to call it because time is weird. So it'll be after I recorded this, but before it's out, I will create such a group maybe it'll be called Welcome to the Light Lab or the Light Lab Podcast. But a place to talk about the episodes, what you find meaningful to share other pieces of T'fillah news, articles, videos, all sorts of things. So we're excited to continue the conversation that way. We are also, and you'll hear more details about this in the future. We're going to be offering some classes starting in the winter, both with the three of us and also with others, including Rabbi Professor Ruben Kimmelman, acclaimed liturgist of our time. I did an interview with him that will be coming out as the next full episode. More learning, a new website, more opportunities for us to connect. But also in our last few minutes here, wondering if either of you would like to share about any other projects that you're doing in your life that you would like our listeners to know about?
Yes, I am endeavoring to try something new. I have a Facebook music page that I was sharing some music and projects on and somehow it disappeared. It's been deleted, it was flagged for harmful content, which is sad, I hope I wasn't harming anyone with the content. But it's gone now. So I'm starting over again. And the starting over again, has helped me think about what it means is to really look back at and reflect on some of the work that I've created in the past and engage with that in conversation with the weekly Torah portion, and also, where we're living right now. How can we make the the words of our tradition and the story of our people relevant, and in conversation with the melodies that I've written mostly for liturgy. So that's why I think it's kind of appropriate for our our prayer light lab. So I started this this past week when we were recording it as Parshat Lech Lecha. And which seemed like an appropriate time to start a journey. So we're beginning that journey. It's mostly living on Facebook, and I'm deciding if it'll also live on Instagram, and in my listserv, so you can find that on my website, too. But I love to be in conversation with you about that also.
Amazing. We love T'fillah and music related projects here at the light lab. And we'll share a link to that in the show notes as well. Ellen, anything you'd like our folks to know about?
I don't have any brand new projects, I'm doing a lot of teaching online, I'm really happy that we were talking about this off, off podcast as well, that more parts of my life are keeping me in town, rather than taking me out of town. So I'm as busy as I'd like to be and a lot of it's more local. And so it's a, it's a good time for me in that respect. And just as we're wrapping things up, I have to be totally selfish and say, this time with the two of y'all has been just such an amazing gift for the last year. And I am so grateful and and that's what I hope to continue as a great project to the year to come.
Amen. Amen. So, so grateful. I mean, this really just started because I wanted to talk about T'fillah and T'fillah education with people who care very deeply and also want to talk about T'fillah and T'fillah education with me, and to see how this tri-vruta has grown, I've learned so much from both of you. And so much has been shown to me and myself that I wouldn't have ever discovered or known if we hadn't been in conversation like this. So we're almost out of time. But we like to end with a practice, we're going to do a very quick one right now. And this is for you too listener, if you're available for the three of us and for you, just to take a moment, wherever you are, to relax, close your eyes, or focus on a spot on the floor. To take a deep breath in, and out, and allow a feeling of gratitude, to enter your heart. Allow a feeling of gratitude to enter your heart. It's coming from me to all of you. It's coming from the three of us to each other. It's coming from the three of us to you listeners, and it's coming from the listeners to each other. So I invite you to feel that gratitude and send it back out, to breathe that into your heart, that we are so grateful for you for listening and sharing and continuing to be a part of this conversation. And that you are a part of this, listener. And that we are so grateful the three of us in the zoom room for each other. Now you can take one more little breath, breathe that gratitude into your heart, maybe it makes you smile. And we'll say l'hitraot for now. Thank you so much the two of you. It's just always, always a pleasure and an honor.
Amen. Amen. Thank you listeners. Thank you Christy for editing. Thank you Yaffa for shownotes. Thank you everyone. We will be back in two weeks with a full episode of the light lab podcast. See you soon!