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Reflections for Havdalah

Young Adults Havdalah in Manchester

This reflection was part of a young adults havdalah in Manchester on 2 March.

A reflection for Adar Aleph. Right now, we sit in the month of Adar Aleph, the month added to the Jewish calendar seven times every nineteen years. According to many mystical traditions, the twelve months of the year correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel, each one related to one of Jacob’s sons. But as we all know, Jacob had a daughter as well – Dinah. The month of Adar Aleph is connected with Dinah. Not much is known about Dinah, her story begins and ends with a tale of violation and vengeance, and, as with stories of many of the women of our tradition, Dinah’s story is told exclusively through the eyes of others. Her story, like this month, often remains hidden.

Adar Aleph offers us a profound spiritual invitation. It offers us the opportunity to reflect on the stories, people, and experiences that are hidden or overlooked, both within ourselves and within the wider world, and then invites us to hold space to honour these untold stories. We are also taught that Adar is the most joyous month of the year. This hiddenness and this joy presented by Adar Aleph can sometimes feel like a paradox. But really, by coming together to hold space for these stories we strengthen our relationships and honour our authentic selves, which enables us to have a deeper capacity for joy.

Shabbat provides us with a time to envisage the world we want. A world free of oppression, a place where everyone can live as their authentic selves and be met with love and acceptance, a world where we don’t feel like we have to hide, a world filled with an abundance of joy. As we prepare to leave the restful hours of Shabbat and re-enter the week, we are called to work toward creating this world. In embracing this call-to-action, I am reflecting on the words of Arundhati Roy: “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced or the preferably unheard.” During this month, we act to create a world where this is no longer true.

Alison Branitsky is part of the Jackson’s Row community, and the 2019 Ya’ad leadership course.

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