Lisa Gelber
Living Life One Breath at a Time

Placing Hope In Our Midst

April 8, 2020/14 Nisan 5780

While preparing for Passover, I unearthed notes for the blessings Rabbi Cindy Enger and I crafted for A Journey Towards Freedom – A Haggadah for women who have experienced domestic violence (FaithTrust Institute, 2003). Here, alongside traditional, longstanding blessings we introduced a new formula for blessing – nazmin et m’kor hatikvah l’kirbeinu/Let us invite the Source of Hope into our midst.

Creating text for those who had survived Pharaoh in many forms, we imagined blessings as hands extending in togetherness and community, purposefully rooted like a wellspring in the enduring thread of our tradition. Seeing Gd as source of hope seemed apt for a gathering to navigate the journey from slavery to freedom. Reminding ourselves of the promise of communally sourced hope dispelled isolation, loneliness and alienation. Using blessing to place the holy, sacred and generative at the center, we made space to nourish and welcome, release and celebrate.

Many feel unsafe and unsettled this year as we prepare to experience Passover. We cannot help but ask when will it end? Without a crystal ball or even an Magic 8 Ball, no one can say when we will find relief and return to the rhythm of the past. Even though we don’t know what post COVID19 life will look like, it is out there. A new more gentle rhythm awaits us. We can imagine the possibility of celebrating abundance and rejoicing in the fruit of the vine. Inviting the Source of Hope into our midst, we can embrace this moment on our journey at this time in our lives.

For some, this year offers the invitation to celebrate with more people than ever before. Many will connect with family and friends via zoom and face-time before, during or after seder. Faces and voices, images and videos placed at the center of the table – in our midst – offer hope, hope for connection, hope for continuity, hope for adaptation and hope for the future. In addition, or, for some instead of people live on camera, bring photos to the table of family members or friends like family who used to sit among you, those whose recipes inspire your meals and wisdom guide your lives. Just as our ancestors held onto hope for the future, so too must we remember what we have alongside what is missing.

This year, let us invite the Source of Hope into our midst so that we may tap into whatever we need to hold us on our journey towards freedom.

8 April 2020 /14 Nisan 5780

About the Author
Lisa Gelber is rabbi, fierce mother, marathon runner, spiritual director, breast cancer survivor, domestic violence advocate and PELOTON enthusiast. She serves Congregation Habonim in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of NYC and earned an Executive Certificate in Facilitation from the Institute for Transformational Leadership at Georgetown University. Her journey to parenthood is profiled in the Emmy nominated documentary ALL OF THE ABOVE: Single, Clergy, Mother.
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