Here we are – a new Jewish year opening up for us. We can make it a year of great transformation in American society and in the planetary community of all life. The Shalom Center seeks your help in awakening the Spirit for that transformation.
OR -- It can be the year when the West Coast wildfires worsen, many more Covid sufferers die, so do young Blacks at the hands of police sworn to serve and protect them as well as all the rest of us.
Transformation will not be easy. The forces of Domination, Subjugation, even Cruelty, are at their worst when they see their power dissolving. Martin Luther King understood that the “deadly triplets” of racism, militarism, and materialism were threatening the entire future of America and Earth. We have added sexism, the oppression of women and of the GLBTQIA communities. Fifty years later, these four have clenched their fists together.
And we who are trying to see the world (not just biology) through ecological eyes, through eyes that respect the great array of all life forms and honor all cultures of Spirit and inclusive democracy – we are also coming together.
For the Jewish People, this year can be – must be – extraordinary. There is an accounting of a seven-year cycle that has been kept for about 2500 years. In that accounting, one year from now, there begins what the Bible calls “Shabbat Shabbaton” -- a year of Sabbath to the exponential power of Sabbath. It is also called “shmita,” release. Release of Earth from being overworked, release of human beings from being oppressed.
For centuries, this tradition has been barely mentioned. But now!! – we must awaken it in action. So this coming year is the year we must work toward making those changes real.
At The Shalom Center, we are celebrating the cycle of the festivals as the sacred framework for our work. The festivals are the offspring of a love affair between the Jewish People and Earth. Now Mother Earth is badly wounded, and many human beings suffer from poverty, racism, war and war-like policing. Earth and Humanity need the healing help of their children the festivals.
- This year, “Share Sukkot: Green and Grow the Vote.”
- Make Hanukkah the festival of conserving energy by creating solar energy co-ops.
- On Tu B’Shvat, RebirthDay of the Trees, we can act to reforest Earth.
- On Pesach, we can face the Carbon Pharaohs of our day who bring plagues upon the people and the planet.
- On Tisha B’Av, we can mourn the destruction of Temple Earth.
And so on. Indeed, we want to explore how to train Spirit-rooted activists of several traditions, not only Judaism, how to draw on their own symbols, festivals, and practices to heal Earth.
To undergird that broader effort, I wrote Dancing in God's Earthquake: The Coming Transformation of Religion. It envisions how Judaism, Christianity, and other religious and spiritual traditions and communities could draw on and go beyond their existing teachings to create more life-giving and more truthful religious life in the future.
It is being published by Orbis Books in early October. If you want to have me and one of your local leaders weave a conversation with members of your congregation or book club, please drop me a note at Awaskow@theshalomcenter.org with “Book Conversation” in the subject line.
For all this, we seek your crucial help. In your own communities, can you help to focus the festivals this way? And can you support The Shalom Center in creating and sharing the new prayers, new actions, new ways of gathering that will help us free human beings from oppression and heal our Earth from the heat brought on by burning fossil fuels?
All this costs money. Money for teachers, money to send new prayers and practices across the continent, money to gather people in virtual meetings to learn and then to teach.
We ask you to click on the “Contribute” banner just below my signature to send the money that we will need, to make this happen. If it is possible for you, we ask you to send a minimum of $72, and if you can, reach up to $720. Why these numbers? Because the number “18” in Jewish mystical lore means “chai, life.” We seek to create new life in the mystical Four Worlds -- Spirit, Creative Intellect, Interpersonal Emotion and Ethics, and Physical Action. 18x4 = 72, and all its multiples: $144, $576, $720.
Is this just mystical, a mystery? When we transform the world, the mystery of Love becomes the practice of Justice and Eco-sanity. It becomes nourishing food, medical care, public health, decent affordable housing, solar energy, the end of racism in our police forces and the whole “criminal Justice” system. The mystical and the practical become ONE. We ask you to join us in this transformation.
As always, I bless you with Shalom, salaam, paz, peace, namaste!
And now I add, shanah tovah, shinui tov – a good year through transformation for the good! -- Arthur