On the new moon last week I sat under a cedar by the Salish Sea and let the waters caress me. I took it all in: the smell of salt, seductive breeze, huge conifers hugging the edges of open waters.
Someone recently asked me, “Do you feel hashtag blessed? Because you are” I was a bit thrown by the “hashtag” in front of the “blessed “ but yes, I do feel “hashtag blessed”. Apparently feelings need hashtags in front of them to have real significance these days.
It’s hard not to feel grateful, living in a place of humongous summer abundance. Blueberry, blackberry, hucklelberry are all are offering their sweetness. Apples and stone fruit are ripening and days are still relatively long.
Amidst this sense of gratitude, is a time of great grief. We are collectively mourning another white supremacist motivated terrorist attack on everyday citizens, the biggest ICE arrest in 10 years of over 600 people, we are marking the anniversity of Michael Brown Jr’s murder and we continue to witness the assault on immigrants including the building and maintaining of concentration camps in our country.
In Judaism, we are now in the month of Av. A time of grieving, as the food becomes ready, it falls from the plant, a death of kinds. As the water warms we get to swim more but the days also become a little shorter. So it is with the Jewish holidays: Tisha b Av (falls on this Sunday) reminds us of the destruction of the temple (twice) and therefore the destruction of a people’s (the Jews) sense of safety. This is so close to our current reality. Jews are many races and ethnicities. However, many of us who are Ashkenazi, after World War II became white, according to the U.S. census. As Ashkenazi Jews we are in a particular identity of holding privilege but also being in a threatened. Facism is on the rise and Jews have never been able to avoid being targets. As much as some Jews in power try to align with white supremacist ideals, like denying that we have concentration camps in this country, supporting the genocide of Palestinians, or aligning with the Israeli government in human rights abuses, in the end-white supremacy is never going to like a Jew.
I listened to what Dr. Eddie Glaude (via Shaun King) said in speaking to people blaming Trump for mass killings by white supremacists, “This is us! And if we are gonna get past this, we can’t blame it on him, he’s a manifestation of the ugliness that’s in us. I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a tradition that didn’t believe in the myths and the legends because we’ve had to bear the brunt of them. Either we are going to change, or we’re going to do this again and again and babies are going to have to grow up without mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts and friends. While we’re trying to convince white folk to finally leave behind a history that will maybe, maybe or embrace a history, that might set them free from being white.”
What might it mean to be set free from a history of violence and horror that our (us white people’s) ancestors left behind and that we continue to perpetuate? As a Jew, I see my Palestinian and Indigenous solidarity work as a way to set myself and my people free. It’s speaking out and doing actions that contribute to healing and reparations. It’s giving something up, whether that’s time or money to be in service to the dream and vision I feel the soul of the earth and so many communities are begging us to manifest. I’ve come to know that’s what love feels like in my body and spirit.
On the heels of Tisha’b Av is a holiday of love, Tu’ b Av. This holiday gives us an opportunity to give ourselves back our humanity. In old times people would throw their white dresses into a pile, leveling the playing field, taking class and statis out of the occasion. Everyone who wanted to dance in the field would grab a dress that wasn’t theirs and find their lover.
Who’s your lover going to be right now?
Are you going to dance yourself towards the dream of a world where plants are our guides-those who know no borders, hearts of stone are turn to honey and our benevolent ancestors are revered in harmony?
May you revel in Leo love, taking time to sense your own beauty. May you feel your existence and “I am” ness. May you elevate that sensation when you perform acts of love, in service to the greater good of our planet and humanity.