n recent years, I've become more cognizant of how often my answer to the question "how are you?" is "busy." Being busy -- multi-tasking, moving from one assignment to the next, juggling many commitments at the same time -- seems like the dominant paradigm in our 21st century American society. And, this condition is only exacerbated by the non-stop inputs we get from media and technology... sometimes to the point of overload!
In recent years, I've become more cognizant of how often my answer to the question "how are you?" is "busy." Being busy -- multi-tasking, moving from one assignment to the next, juggling many commitments at the same time -- seems like the dominant paradigm in our 21st century American society. And, this condition is only exacerbated by the non-stop inputs we get from media and technology... sometimes to the point of overload!
As human beings, we are hard-wired to need rest: the rest that comes with our daily cycle of sleeping and waking, and also the rest that comes when we take time to recharge our own batteries.
One of Judaism's central "spiritual technologies" is that of Shabbat: the radical notion that one day in every set of seven, we are entitled to put aside the busy-ness and simply focus on being and connecting. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once wrote: "Shabbat is the day we stand still and let all our blessings catch up with us."
In typical fashion for Kavana -- a community that's all about both pluralism and intentionality -- we know that there's not only one right way to "do Shabbat"... but also acknowledge that everyone could use some Shabbat, both at home and in community.
This Shabbat, we're offering options: our "Camp-Style Family Shabbat Service," if upbeat singing and high-energy feels like the right vibe for you this week, or "Shabbat as Spiritual Retreat," where yoga, meditation and chanting will bring Shabbat to life in a more contemplative mode. As we do during the High Holidays, these two opportunities will be offered in the same general time-frame at different venues in Queen Anne (all within easy walking distance), and our hope is that everyone can find their place to plug in. If this Shabbat doesn't work for you, we have yet other options coming up -- our Friday night service meets next on April 5th, and our Shabbat Morning Minyan returns on April 27th (the final day of Passover).
Here's to hoping that we all make it through our busy weeks feeling productive and fulfilled, and can create the space each Shabbat to let our blessings catch up with us!
The Torah is usually terse and concise, but this week's parasha, Chayei Sarah, centers around a long story that is anything but! All 67 verses of Genesis chapter 24 are devoted to a single narrative: the tale of Abraham sending his servant on a journey to find a wife for his son Isaac, and returning with Rebecca, a woman of great agency, strength and generosity.
We Jews know how to wait. That is, we deeply understand humanity's imperfections, and that the presence of injustice or cruelty in our world cannot undermine our steadfast focus on trying to achieve our vision of a more perfect, more just future. We have lots of historical experience to draw on, and much language for this kind of spiritual resilience. One line that's been swimming through my head this week is from the prayer "Ani Maamin": "v'af al pi she-yitmameah, im kol zeh achakeh lo." Translating loosely here (and transposing what we're waiting for from a messianic figure to a time characterized by messianic ideals), this means: despite the fact that it's taking a long time for the world to change in the ways we believe it should, still, we are undeterred; we will wait - and work - until we arrive at an era of peace and justice.
Yesterday was the second anniversary of the violent attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Its memory casts a long shadow for me, and this year, the anniversary feels like a powerful reminder of the very high stakes of next week’s election.