It has been three years since my return to Denver, three wonderful years. In that time, I have had meetings with people who knew my grandparents, who were classmates of my parents, who grew up with me, or who were my students. All of these different strands of my life, loose but long, connecting over decades and across generations, have begun to weave together to form a beautiful and meaningful tapestry.
Just this week, I had a cup of coffee at Steam Espresso Bar, a new coffeehouse in an old fire station on Tejon Street. The coffee was great, and the company—an old friend of my parents, a new friend to me—and conversation were even better. In a way, the experience perfectly encapsulates what has happened since I returned home: a historic building, once dedicated to protecting and saving lives, finds rebirth as a gathering spot and provides a place for me, and undoubtedly others, to reaffirm old bonds and weave new strands of connection and community.
Our conversation, mine and my new friend’s, was lengthy, and we talked about his family and mine and about our community and our communal work, his and mine. We discussed the ties that bind one generation to the next. He told me that his fitness instructor had proudly declared that she is half-Jewish, and we shared stories of others who are exploring their Jewish identities and looking for a home in our diverse community.
This week’s Torah portion, Devarim, contains similar stories. In it, Moses speaks to the people of Israel, recounting their journey through the desert and the highs and lows in their landscape of wandering. In doing so, he explicitly weaves together their shared experiences, using the strands of their story to connect them, generation to generation and beyond.
Those stories, of sadness and joy, of trauma and triumph, of individuals and of community, are, of course, our stories too. Our calling is to weave the strands of our past into the tapestry of our future—all of it: the messy threads and the muddy colors, the brilliant hues and the tightly woven narratives. And in doing so, we create the fabric that binds us all.