Tipping Point

Ba’al tekiah David Cooper blowing the shofar at sunset 9/22/2022

The shofar is an ancient instrument of prayer, warfare, and community. This long twisted one is made from the horn of a male Greater Kudu, an African antelope. In Jewish religious practice, the person who blows the shofar is known as the ba’al tekiah, the “master of the blast.” Here David Cooper, a retired rabbi, blows the shofar as a farewell to the sun disappearing below the coastal hill range. On the Equinox, Cooper explained in a talk earlier, the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west, making a vertical 180 degree arc across the sky. The Equinox is not actually a day, it’s a moment in time when day and night are equal in length and the earth tips from one season to another — from summer to fall in the north, from winter to spring in the south. More details on Wikipedia.

Santiago Casal, founder and curator of the Solar Calendar
David Cooper

Cooper also astonished and amused members of his hilltop audience at the Chavez/Huerta Solar Calendar with an imaginary scale model of the solar system in which the earth was the size of a peppercorn. He also described the complex adjustments that had to be made in both the Jewish and the Muslim calendars, which are based on the lunar cycle, due to the fact that the moon completes its annual cycles 11 days short of the solar calendar. It was a privilege to hear the learned Cooper talk on a wide range of subjects, connecting astronomical matters with the virtues of the Cesar Chavez movement’s philosophy.

Immediately prior to the Equinox talk, a circle formed around the solar calendar to commemorate Marilyn Golden, a Berkeley disability rights advocate with a national influence who died on the Equinox a year ago. She regularly braved the rocky trail in her wheelchair to attend the Equinox and Solstice gatherings here. Friends spoke of her unfailingly positive spirit, her loving attitude, and her courage. One friend remembered that Golden said, “Don’t get mad, get out there!”

Part of the group participating in the Equinox gathering

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One thought on “Tipping Point

  • One source of many more details on all the wobbly, eccentric, geometric, light-bending, mind-bending, cultural and other complexities of the equinox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinox

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