My synagogue is such a warm, welcoming community. I have belonged for many years now, and know not all, but many members by name. Once a month we have a musical service, synaplex, with a full evening of events for everyone--dinner, music, entertainment for kids, a guest speaker, and goodies.
The music, performed by extremely gifted people who happen to belong to our synagogue or are hired on a regular basis, is always wonderful too. I leave that service smiling, even though sometimes I do not arrive in a particularly good frame of mind.
Often, the speakers are of extremely high quality and interest. Last night, Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent outed by Bush and his cronies, spoke about her book detailing this experience. She was extremely articulate and appealing,in some ways glamorous, but not in a Bond way. Though the CIA is hardly my favorite organization, speaking generally, I found her likeable and accessible. She has made me question my presuppositions about the organization and intelligence operators because she clearly intended to use her position as a way to protect the public and the U.S. at large. She had investigated the trafficking of nuclear materials, trying to keep these out of the hands of people likely to use them in illicit ways. Since leaving the organization, she has become involved in an effort to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.
I didn't get a chance to speak with her after the presentation. The place was mobbed, and as always, it was quite late and Liz and I were tired and needed to go home. But I left feeling I had learned something and had a wonderful evening!
I took a copy of Balance with me to show friends at synagogue, many of whom had already ordered the book. Many inspected it with interest, but it became plain that poetry is an alien beast for most people, who seemed to think that because it sat in the middle of the page and was broken into lines rather than being a block of prose, it must be obscure and too "deep" to understand. Only a few people there actually read and identified real, concrete images they could envision in their own imaginations. An uphill battle.