From Survival to Thriving

“In cities of sacred diversity...we organize ourselves and our shared resources...we sustain the poor...and visit the sick...and bury the dead...and comfort the bereaved...for these are ways of peace and wholeness.”

(Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Gittin)

Shalom dear friends! As I sit to write this article, I am keenly aware it arrives as the first year of global pandemic life comes full circle in the Jewish calendar. A year since Rabbi Yael, Spiritual Life and the extended Purim team assembled a satirical and joyful evening to help us cope with the surreal megillah that was our social and political landscape, and to find connection, strength, and uplift face to face amid the tumult.

Nearly a year since life as we had known it closed down, accelerating certain core challenges and trends that were budding and lurking in our local to global worlds. At the same time, we have experienced a collapsing or testing of other ways of life that we had taken for granted, relied on or were unconscious to.

While acknowledging the passage of this time, we all know we are still in the midst of so much change and uncertainty. We have seen and contributed to greater hope and conviction rising on the other side of an election and its aftermath, and the emergence of various COVID-19 vaccines. Yet we are still on the rollercoaster of creative-exhausting- challenging-inspiring responses to every day living and broader ongoing issues of justice, well-being, sustainable life, and our democratic society itself.

Through it all we continue to gather in daily Mishkan Shalom zoom rooms in the midst of it all, sometimes three or four times a day with reoccurring offerings and special celebratory events such as our February 13th “Night of Memories”, Library Committee and Membership Community offerings. Weaving their way through these next months of February/March or Adar/ Nisan is the celebration of Purim and festival of Pesach/Passover.

Purim means “to cast lots”. We read the well-crafted drama of the Purim story from the Hebrew Bible, Megillat (The Scroll of) Esther; celebrate with a festive meal, give tzedakah directly to those in need- mattanot l’evyonim, and give mishloach manot- deliver festive goodies to friends. We enter the story, inhabit the roles, claim our true heritage and identity, then celebrate and release our tightly wound self-image. Through this process we can break our isolation, embrace our essential identities and power in community and collective action for the greater good of all.

As we sing once again “She Said No to the King” this year, I want to especially offer gratitude to the many of you who stepped up to say “no” to injustice and yes to supporting families, neighbors, immigrants and refugees, anyone under threat because of the color of their skin, people who identify as LGBTQ, persons differently abled, health challenged or experiencing profound loss.

It is in the movement from Purim to Passover, that we can take guidance in how Jewish life encourages us to face our individual fears and embrace our collective power.

When our people were on the road to freedom and solidarity, justice and equitable systems of governance and appropriate leadership, there were certainly upheavals on the path from bondage to self-determination and promise. Yet the determination and communal support and covenantal commitment carried across a troubled deep sea to the other side, and into the decades of living into what is only imagined and ultimately possible.

The power of Passover, the most celebrated Jewish festival within and increasingly beyond the Jewish world, is in our re-connection to the Transformative Power that calls us towards a sustainable and flourishing future for all life. We can experience this in the first nights of Pesach (Passover) where we celebrate the Passover Seder with the guided “telling” or the Haggadah, and through seventh night Seder tradition.

I look forward to celebrating with all of you at our multiple social, spiritual and activist events this month on-line, and for our special themed Shabbatot and work with Jewish Learning Venture’s JDAIM Inclusion, POWER, New Sanctuary Movement, HIAS and more.

Together we will discover and recover our own and our people’s stories. I pray each of you finds new meaning, joy, and deepened connections with those who gather with you safely in person or or on-line! See you in Zoomland soon and often!

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