This week we marked the one year anniversary since the 2016 election. Over the past year, so many of us have experienced feelings of disappointment, anger, grief, and (at times) despair, as our core beliefs -- values like justice, equality, human dignity, compassion, and love -- have been attacked from every angle. This week's election provided a glimmer of hope.
My word of the week is HOPE -- TIKVAH in Hebrew.
This week's parasha (Chayei Sarah) opens with Abraham mourning the loss of his beloved wife Sarah, grieving and crying over her. And then, after seeing to her burial, he turns his attention to the task of finding a wife for his son Isaac and ensuring a future for his covenanted family.
Our tradition shows us this pattern in countless ways. In the words of the Psalmist, we read "ba-erev yalin bechi, v'la-boker rina" -- "In the evening one may lie down weeping, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:6). As human beings and as Jews, we are hard-wired for resilience.
This week we marked the one year anniversary since the 2016 election. Over the past year, so many of us have experienced feelings of disappointment, anger, grief, and (at times) despair, as our core beliefs -- values like justice, equality, human dignity, compassion, and love -- have been attacked from every angle. This week's election provided a glimmer of hope. The results of an "off-year" election cannot undo the past (we still have our work quite cut out for us, if we are to ground our society in our positive values!). However, the fact that so many Americans across the country rejected racist, sexist, xenophobic and/or homophobic platforms, provides us with some hope that perhaps our values are shared by enough in our American society to turn the tide.
The Kavana community is far from alone in applying our spiritual lens to American society in this moment, or believing that our religious values can and should inform our engagement in the world. This week, I'm happy to be able to share this piece, assembled by Auburn Seminary, entitled "Surprising Surge of Hope," in which 12 religious leaders (from various faith traditions) answer the question of what has given them hope over the past year.
What gives you hope in this moment? For me, the photos below -- snapshots into recent weeks in the life of Kavana (specifically, the Green Team's environmental clean-up and kids learning about Abraham at Moadon Yeladim) -- fill me with hope.
At Kavana, since our inception, we have described "risk-taking" as a value of our organization. However, we've always meant that in the entrepreneurial sense... in that we have taken risks in our approach to Jewish education, ritual, community-building, and more. Where we have NOT taken risks -- nor do we care to do so! -- is in any situation where thesafety and well-being of our community members are on the line. (Jewish law supports us in this, and incidentally, the value of "pikuach nefesh," "saving a life" was the topic of our last Havdalah Club event... among other things, the kids talked about proactive steps we should take to ensure the safety of ourselves and others.)
Last Shabbat, Jewish communities everywhere read Parashat Yitro, which tells the story of the giving of the Ten Commandments and describes revelation at Sinai, a peak moment of closeness between the Israelites and God.
It's easy to get caught up in what's NOT working these days... from the "via-doom" traffic situation here in Seattle, to the Federal government's partial shut-down. We know that these situations are real and that their effects can be felt... mildly, by some, and much more severely by others. Gridlock, whether physical or metaphorical, is painful.That said, at Kavana, we have always prided ourselves on our ability to focus on what IS working, what possibilities there CAN be, and where there is potential for FORWARD MOTION.