Jewish& is a blog by Be’chol Lashon, which gives voice to the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. The original multicultural people, Jews have lived around the world for millennia. Today, with globalism and inclusion so key in making choices about engaging in Jewish life,Jewish& provides a forum for personal reflection, discussion, and debate.
Ahava means love. My love of Judaism and my cultural identity as a Black Jew are at the core of who I am. Shabbat is the highlight of my week. It is a sacred time for me to consciously reflect and heal. It is a time when I take a meditation walk and think about my week, a time when I lay in my bed and peer at the ceiling or close my eyes and think about how HaShem is reflected in my doing and being. It is a time when I sit and think about mitzvahs. It is a time when I am truly being and sharing quality moments with my children. Yet within the tradition, I found something lacking.
When I made the conscious decision to convert to Judaism and as I searched for ways to connect with my new Jewish lifestyle, I needed sources that mirrored my personal choices and experiences. In the traditional liturgy, I did not find Shabbat meditation books that were focused on conversion, social justice, and the Black Jewish woman experience. So I did what Jewish women have done through the generations: I wrote a book of prayers and meditations, called Ahava.
I was, for example, inspired to write about Martin Luther King, Jr., equality, civil rights, and the unique journey and triumphs of Black people. Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished so much because of his passion, vision and leadership. He was also successful in many of his efforts because of the support of his allies, including the Jewish community. Ahava was written from my viewpoint as a Black Jewish woman who has overcome and has found a home and love in Judaism. But there are also meditations and affirmations that speak to many of the universal Jewish concerns and holidays such as Tashlich, Lag B’Omer, and Rosh Hashanah.
As the American Jewish community becomes more diverse and inclusive, our spiritual life has the potential to change with us. Through the generations, our traditions have spoken to eternal human and Jewish concerns but they have also adapted to the geographic and historic customs and cultures in which Jews have lived. My hope with Ahava is to continue to expand the ways Jews express our connection to God and tradition.
CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS
Their voices trembled
as their hearts ached with pain
passionately crying for justice.
Blood leaked from their torn flesh
as they pursued equal rights.
Tears flowed from their weary eyes
from the pain of many struggles
to make America great
for ALL people
We will continue to peacefully pursue
BLACK and JEWISH
May we all put aside our differences
and work together
in love and peace
to make a difference in the world.
May we never forget
the slavery and persecution
of our people.
We share a common story
and a powerful legacy
of strength and perseverance.
Regardless of our differences
may we continue to
collaboratively and positively
We can ALL make
the world a better place in
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Celebrate the legacy of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
and other individuals
who joined together
to pursue justice.
May we continue to collectively play
an active role in repairing our world
by standing up for truth
and demonstrating powerful love.
My favorite morning song
A flowing stream of translucent water
with cascading rhythms bouncing from the still rocks
a slight breeze rustling the lilies
reaching from the floor of the pond
the dancing rainbows
gardens of purples, reds, whites, greens, and blues.
The buzzing of the dragonflies
soothing sounds of the hummingbird
and the flapping of the butterflies’ wings
The drums of hydrangeas and scent of roses
beating to the rhythm of my heart
The fragrant jasmines that calm my spirit
with their aroma.
I witness G-d’s glory in nature
Pronounced: hah-SHEMM, Origin: Hebrew, literally, “the name,” word used to refer to God.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.
Pronounced: TAHSH-likh (short i), Origin: Hebrew, literally “cast away,” tashlich is a ceremony observed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, in which sins are symbolically cast away into a natural body of water. The term and custom are derived from a verse in the Book of Micah (7:19).
Pronounced: roshe hah-SHAH-nah, also roshe ha-shah-NAH, Origin: Hebrew, the Jewish new year.