In the Jewish calendar, we’re just past the holiday season—the High Holidays, the harvest festival of Sukkot, and the concluding festival of Simchat Torah when the last verses of the Torah are read and the first verses are started again. The Torah readings for these holidays speak often of the offerings once made on the altar in the Tabernacle in celebration of these festivals. Particularly on Yom Kippur, the readings mention the kodesh kodashim: the holy of holies. This enclosed sacred space contained, according to legend: the tablets of the Commandments inside an ark, topped by two cherubim that held up an empty space between them—an empty space understood to be the amplified presence of an invisible God. As I think back over my powerful summer, which was largely spent with Jewish priestesses on various retreats and adventures (in Connecticut, Mississippi, California, Costa Rica, England and Scotland), I am thinking about a unique ritual object we use, and realizing that in its own way, it is a kind of Holy of Holies.
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