Sulam Slam

Lisë Stern

About Lisë Stern

After decades of regarding Jewish text study as an avocation, I formalized the relationship last year, plunging into the world of full-time rabbinic studies at Hebrew College. Days spent editing and writing food-related articles and books (including Culinary Tea and How to Keep Kosher) are now be focused on the depths of Tanach and Talmud. I’m on the cusp of what Pirkei Avot calls זִּקְנָה, old age (I’ll be 60 next month), yet I am continually discovering new interests and abilities. One of these is writing spoken word poetry. I discovered slam poetry in 2013, when the National Poetry Slam was being held in Boston. A few years ago, I began to write spoken word poetry, inspired by text, by emotions, or news of the day. The myriad commentaries over the millennia continue to give us new understandings of how to be in this world with God, with each other, as Jews involved with Jews, as Jews living in a non-Jewish world, interacting with those who believe in God, and those who don’t. Poetry can connect us all.

About Sulam Slam

I’ve always been drawn to Jacob’s dreams, so mysterious and compelling. When he leaves his childhood home, forever, as it turns out, he has a dream in the desert of a sulma, with angels, lodged between earth and heaven. Sulam gets translated as ladder, but it’s a hapax legomenon, a word that appears only once in the Tanach, so the true definition is unclear. It could be a staircase, a ramp – it’s a vehicle for connecting this world and a godly realm. Shmita, too, is a connection between this world and God’s realm. It’s a gift and challenge given by God to honor the earth and what the earth is able to give us. But it’s a challenge to just stop, to release our relationships to patterns and behaviors we’re established and comfortable with. Jacob had this dream when he was on the run – a situation of his own doing, but a situation that released him from the life he had known up to that point, sending him into an unmoored wilderness. What can we release? What can we let go of, and what can we change to become our next selves, our best selves?
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