Jewish Ritual as a Guide to Community Healing

by Rachel Eisen, Director of Annual Giving

This past week has been, to put it mildly, a tumultuous and heavy one.

As a (white) Jewish woman, I’ve been worried and scared for my friends and family of all races and religions, as an antisemitic man and a homophobic man were named to the presidential transition team. I’ve stood in silence and sadness as a Muslim friend who wears a hijab did not show up to a group exercise class at our gym the day after the election. The list could go on.

Mayyim Hayyim is a pluralistic place and pluralism is hardest during times of political tension.

But, as I was reminded several times this weekend, there is also a time for moral leadership. In 1790, George Washington wrote, in response to the Touro Synagogue’s question about whether Jews would be welcome in the new United States of America, that the newly-formed government “to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Mayyim Hayyim does not tolerate bigotry, but rather tries to actively work against it.

This past Friday night, at Kabbalat Shabbat services, I was asked to stand for the Mourner’s Kaddish, even if it wasn’t my custom to do so, in acknowledgement of the pain and fear we as a community and the communities around us are experiencing.

It was a powerful reminder of why ritual matters—always, but especially at a time like this.

Therefore, regardless of politics, regardless of who is given the power to say hateful words or create hateful policies, Mayyim Hayyim will remain a place for all Jews, a place where we don’t just welcome, but actively celebrate the diversity of race, sexual orientation, gender, and ability, a place where all are welcome in our doors to celebrate and heal, for whatever reason they need.

 

rachel-eisenRachel Eisen is Mayyim Hayyim’s Director of Annual Giving. She’s so proud to come in to work every day to ensure such an incredible place will exist today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

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