When I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, my dad asked me to consider who I might like to speak at the service—as you prepare for an entry into adulthood, he asked, are there role models for you beyond your family, folks who you look up to, or want to learn from? I thought of two close family friends, Reverend Daniel Buford of the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, and Marc Rappaport, a graphic designer and artist, and member of our havurah with whom we had monthly Shabbat dinners. Both, I think, were surprised to be invited, and both offered wise words of encouragement to me at the event.
I was thinking of Marc in particular this morning, as I sat down to write this piece for Hashavua. This week’s Torah portion contains one of the most famous of all Bible stories, Noah’s Ark. As the story goes, Noah was alone in his generation in being a righteous person, and so God decides to hit the reset button on humanity, and sends a flood to wipe out all living things, with the exception of those creatures who made it two-by-two to the floating zoo. At the end, God promises to never again wipe out humanity and the living things of the earth—or never again by flood, at least—and points to a rainbow in the clouds as evidence of that covenant, an agreement scribed in light.