In the summer of 2021, I reached out to Rachel on a whim because I wanted her perspective on what could only be described as seven pages of word vomit. I had finished translating the Akedah and the process of paying close and loving attention to each word of such a powerful story had my mind whirling. I needed help identifying if there were kernels of anything worthwhile in all of it, help figuring out where to start.
I’d come to respect and care for Rachel deeply after years of being both her student, and side-by-side with her in the classroom and art studio. Studying with her left me feeling sharp, empowered, and exhausted in the best way. She was passionate about Torah in the ways I was, namely we get loud and talk fast. Which is why, as I was considering who to call to help me sort through my mess of ideas, Rachel popped into my mind.
And I have to tell y’all, it was Divine that she did because this will be the only piece of my writing that Rachel will have ever read. She spent a few hours on the phone with me talking through my thousands of ideas and helped me figure out what drash was bubbling up in that particular moment. In fact, it was Rachel’s idea to turn the brain dump into multiple drashot- a proposal that has helped me come to understand why the commandment to read Torah year after year is so important to me.
To say I feel honored to have gotten to think with her about this drash does not begin to capture what I feel in my body. I cannot express how deeply Rachel has inspired me or how much I feel I owe to her beloved memory. She was one of the most incredible teachers I’ve ever had and my teaching will be forever shaped by what I’ve learned from her about Torah, pedagogy, and what it means to show up in the fullness of oneself.
I dedicate this drash to her memory, which I gave on Shabbat Vayera 5782 at Kehilla Synagogue. If you want to join this conversation I had with her, please feel free to add comments to the doc — I’m still crafting drashot about the Akedah and am continuously inspired by new perspectives and commentary on this sacred story.
May her memory be for a blessing. I miss her dearly.
Natalie Boskin, she/her/hers is the Assistant Director of Youth Programs at Kehillah Community Synagogue in Oakland, California.