Thank you to Danielle Sara Storch for the vision and effort that were behind this evening, and to the amazing cadre of women who planned, promoted, spoke, inspired and attended. Thank to to Rebbitzen Feldman for honoring us with your presence.
My friend was sitting in the middle row and behind her was an unfamiliar face. Taking a deep breath, she turned around and said “Hi, my name is Rivki.”
I was over at the refreshments table thirstily looking for some water. The woman next to me seemed thirsty too. I’m going to get some water,” I said, “do you want me to get you some too?”
Last night’s Jewish unity event sparked more than just good ideas and inspiration. Hundreds of acts of loving-kindness took place in that one room alone! It sparked an engine of activism. And it’s just revving up!
One woman walked in, in the middle of the program and told me later that as she entered, she felt the atmosphere thick with love.
We started the program singing Hinei Ma Tov U’manaim to warm up the room. It took a few minutes before the singing caught on and even then we had some more ice to break. It’s not that people were unfriendly. We’re just so used to seeing the person next to us as other. We needed to move past that.
So we joined in an ice breaking activity. Find 5 things in common with the person next to you. We asked the women to share about real things; tobe sensitive in the questioning and to look deeper. What’s that person really about?
At that point I walked around the room. It was sight and sound I’ll never forget. The otherness was no more; animated faces, postures leaning in, a cacophony of friendship right before my eyes!
And then we were ready to begin! We heard about why were there, we heard about the Ahavas Yisroel project. We heard testimonies of women who let go of grudges, who stretched in kindness. We heard about Hashem’s love and about the strength of women. We heard words from the heart and they entered our heart. And when the lights were low we prayed together.
We saw the 6 minute ahavas yisroel video (you can see it here – http://youtu.be/WjgaX-LVAkQ ) All at once it became clear that all the pain and illness and all the terrorist attacks and threats are one too. They’re one message to us to wake up, to improve, to unite!
It was like we walked in asleep and had a collective awakening. An awakening to the pure and simple truth that we are one. That we need to love one another and that the time is now.
I was awed by the power of the night. Women stayed; not for one hour, but for two or three hours. We honored women who dedicate their lives to chesed and we danced and sang to the music of Ayelet Hashachar.
It’s the eleventh hour.
The sound of the Shofar is calling to us and the rants of our enemies are haunting us. We can’t wait until war to come together. We, the Jewish women want to come together in peace!
What is that peace? What is that unity?
It starts in the heart; in the knowing that our fellow Jew is ours, to love unconditionally.
It continues to the head, where we consciously withhold judgment. Where we remind ourselves that we each need to answer to G-d privately and that to love Him, is to love His children.
And it moves. To our arms, our legs, our hands and feet. When we give of our time and money to help our fellow friend. When we give in ways that we thought we never could. When we think of the next person and do something that would make them happy.
And the result?
– forgive someone who wronged you
-volunteer with an organization that does good work
-engage people who you wouldn’t naturally be drawn to. see what’s there!
-do an act of kindness to someone you’ve been judgmental of
-speak kindly to your spouse
-acknowledge the small accomplishments of someone in your life with a card
-send a note of encouragement…to anyone!
-extend a warm welcome to a new person – even if you’re new
-call your out of state family and keep them involved in your life
-leave a loving note for your spouse before Shabbos or before going to work
-thank your children for being so amazing
-greet those that you pass with a smile
-give the next person you talk to your full attention
-spend some quiet time alone to nurture yourself and your relationship with G-d