As I was trying to process the horrific events in New Zealand, I also had to prepare for my class’s week of fieldwork. This year my class is working with the Burning Man organization and the Friends of Black Rock – High Rock to investigate the geological and hydrological underpinnings of Fly Geyser, north of Gerlach in Washoe County. I am writing from Bruno’s in Gerlach, and am pleased to report that the class’s data collection is going rather spectacularly well. The seismic images we are getting at Fly Geyser have the highest resolution of any that my class has ever obtained, in my 32-year teaching career. A combination of factors are working together to make this site an ideal location for teaching, research, and art; and not just for me.

Driving through the Biblical landscape here has been calming my jittery nerves. Seeing the mountains 100 miles away reflecting in the shallow waters covering Black Rock Desert this month is reminiscent of the view from the shores of the Dead Sea or the Kinneret. The mountain ranges all around are capped with snow this year, and just now fresh green grass is poking up under the withered sagebrush. Around Fly Geyser and Gerlach, in one day you can meet hippies, artists, cowboys, hunters, States rights activists, internet billionaires, Culinary Institute Chefs, truckers, teachers, stranded travelers, and scientists. They are all drawn to this landscape, much as we are drawn to Israel.

Including all this diversity, there is community. Not just in Gerlach, but Reno too. We are privileged to have five Rabbis- all performing together this week! We are privileged to know the Northern Nevada Muslim community, who invited us to their spiritual home for the Hearts United with Christchurch event. In such terrible times, we need this diversity; we need this community, wherever we can find it.

I wish you the happiest of Purims, and the privilege to gather in community.

John Louie, President