Last Friday was a great day of building Sanctuary, and the common theme of all the conversations and gatherings was this three-word refrain: Here All Along.
The day began with two morning meetings at a local cafe. That's how I approach community building - one person, one conversation, and even one cup at a time.
Conversation #1: Over a cup of tea, we planned a new Circle that will bring together adults who haven't really studied Judaism since age 13, those curious about becoming Jewish, and parents figuring out what they want to teach and model for their children when it comes to Jewish practice.
In many ways, we've all become Jews by choice, and having thoughtful companions and accessible resources to guide all the choices can make a big difference. There is actually a new literary genre that captures this very moment in American Jewish life: After feeling a limited connection to Judaism as children, more and more adults are exploring Jewish wisdom later in life and finding themselves delighted and often surprised by what they discover. Luckily for us, some of these people are accomplished writers who decided to document their journeys in book form.
The most recent contribution to this genre is "Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life - in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There)," written by Sarah Hurwitz, the former head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. Relatable and well-researched, Hurwitz's book will provide the structure and core reading material for this upcoming Circle.
Conversation #2: Next I met with a local parent who shared many wonderful ideals for the kind of Jewish community he wants for himself and his family. In addition to the importance of integrity and openness, we spoke about honoring how Judaism lives in people, not in a building. We need to remember and rejoice in the reality that we carry Judaism within us every day. It's been here all along.
Conversation 3#: An hour later at our Yoga Circle, we experienced Shabbat as an invitation to pause and take some deep breaths. Doing so can slow us down, ground us, and connect us to the Source of all Breath. Since we spend most of our days ignoring our breath, Shabbat reminds us to pay attention to this powerful tool for spirituality and insight that we carry with us every day. It's been here all along.
Three distinct conversations with the same conclusion. Why do we need Sanctuary? Because we need to create space and time to be curious about the sources of wisdom that have been here all along. Giving them our attention invites new sources of grounding, inspiration and healthy debate into our modern lives.
Rabbi Bethie Miller writes periodic reflections on the state of our world and the Jewish project. She also writes about creative ideas for combining Jewish wisdom with our modern lives. Here are links to previous ones:
Looking for Hope at the Seder Table (4/13/22)
Happy 9th Night of Hanukkah (12/6/21)
The Healing is in the Return (8/18/21)
Time to Pray (11/2/20)
The Secret to At-One-Ment (9/27/20)
Taking a Sharp Left Turn into 5781 (9/15/20)
Waking Up One Day At Time (8/31/20)
This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared (8/18/20)
The Day is Short (6/16/20)
Spiritual Mountain Climbing Without Leaving the House (5/14/20)
Shabbat Peace, Love & Light (3/20/20)
Sources of Connection as We Practice Social Distancing (3/16/20)
Purim Has Never Felt So Resonant (3/9/20)
The Miracle of Chanukah (12/20/19)
To Be Jewish is To Be Grateful (12/2/19)
What I Learned During the High Holy Days (10/16/19)
New Year, New Project - Welcome to Sanctuary (10/3/19)