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Join the Rikkud: It Takes Two to Tango

10/01/2019 06:37:44 PM


Ilana Axel, Cantorial Leader

Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year to all! Our new president, Deb Bakal, has offered us the theme of joining the rikkud – the dance – as a metaphor this year for finding one’s place in our community. I am offering my own musings on this theme, here throughout the year.

They say it takes two to tango. I have no idea where that catchy saying comes from, but I can think of an interesting tango for two in the Torah. Yitro and Moses. One older, one younger. One a Midianite priest, one a Hebrew fugitive. Bound together by marriage (Moses weds Yitro’s daughter, Tzipporah) and, somewhat, by regional mores, but bound also to different gods. Moses and Yitro, the first wholly positive model of an interfaith relationship, take a leap of faith in each other. They agree to, metaphorically, tango with each other (tango, not tangle, though some of that might have also occurred).

The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines the tango as a ballroom dance of Latin American origin in ²/₄ time with a basic pattern of step-step-step-step-close and characterized by long pauses and stylized body positions. The long pauses and stylized body positions, together with the tension lines created between the partners, are generally what captures our attention (aside from the sensuous costumes and roses). Each partner accentuates their own unique build and energy, yet each is totally dependent upon the support of the other to achieve balance, spark, and elegance.

Yitro and Moses were both very unique individuals with powerful personal energies. When they chose to tango with each other, the first sparks of our present-day judicial system were born. Moses was overwhelmed by the task of judging the people’s cases (600,000 people some say) according to the newly given laws of Torah. Yitro observed how Moses was being worn out by the people, and how the people were being worn down waiting in line for Moses. Yitro could have belittled his son-in-law’s obedience to this new and demanding god, but instead suggested that Moses appoint lower court judges who would share the burden. Moses could have resented Yitro’s foreign meddling, but instead he listened and accepted this advice with the love in which it was offered.

Two have to agree to enter into a tango. The tango is born of the generous, voluntary negotiation of form and movement between two separate beings. Two separate beings create a whole larger than each of their separate selves. Such is our world. We are joined to the other in ways we can only begin to perceive. When we choose to tangle, I mean, tango, with the other, there will likely be some natural friction, but there can also be new lines of balance and support.

We find ourselves in a period where some refuse to join the tango, yet many others are running to find a tango hall. At Beth Tikvah many choose the tango hall as the place to explore relationships with people who are not wholly like ourselves. We believe that the greater good, and a greater whole, are dependent upon these relationships.

Fortunately we have two rich opportunities in October and November to get ourselves to the interfaith tango hall and choreograph some gorgeous new dance moves. I encourage you to join the interfaith rikkud – because it truly takes two to tango – and join us at these upcoming, vitally important programs.


Friday, October 18 at 7:00 pmSukkot Ushpizin. This is a unique opportunity to share the beauty of our Sukkot celebrations with others. We encourage Beth Tikvah members to invite many family, friends and neighbors – all persuasions and all ages are welcome. See page 9 for more info. Register here.


Wednesday, November 27 at 7:30 pmThanksgiving Interfaith Service at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 930 W. Higgins Rd, Schaumburg, IL. This is one of the most loving and uplifting fellowships of the year in our larger community, and includes a delicious harvest of bread and pie tastings.


Join the rikkud


Tue, June 25 2024 19 Sivan 5784