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!
In weeks like this one, with the climate crisis and political crises in full view, I struggle with the question of agency. Do I have any power at all to effect change? If I cannot control the "big" things that are happening in real time all around me, do my actions matter? It's easy to become dispirited and believe that we don't have much power.
A few weeks ago, Noam and I decided to introduce our kids to the movie Fiddler on the Roof. They were excited to sing along to some already-familiar songs like "Matchmaker" and "Tradition," and thought the wedding scene was beautiful. However, I had forgotten just how dark the end of the movie is. As we watched the Jews being expelled from their village of Anatevka, trudging down the road together, and pausing at the crossroads before going their own separate ways, my 10-year-old asked whether something like that could ever happen to us here in America.
Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort.