Yom Yerushalayim: my practice for today

During sefirat ha’omer, I work out the readiness for receiving more on my yoga mat. These last days between Passover and Shavuot are full of malchut, the attribute of nobility, physically found between the shins. The lowest of the low, so it can stand solidly holding space for every other attribute.

Today, Yom Yerushalayim, is chesed sh’b’malchut. The love that brings it ALL together.

Even the parts that require discernment (gevurah), balance (tiferet), endurance (netzach), resilience (hod), and creativity (yesod). Thankfully, the first step is with kindness (chesed). Living in Jerusalem requires all the attributes. All the time. This is one day to practice.

On a day meant to celebrate the unification of Jerusalem, I feel pulled apart much of the time. 49 years of shared access to holy sites is complicated enough, but how much chesed is there in a tripled municipal budget for a troubling parade through the Old City when there are residents of Jerusalem without access to adequate sanitation, water, health care and education? How can I sit in this privileged place, with years of Israel education helping me to see the intense beauty of my home, without also knowing how brutal daily life can be for Permanent Residents of Jerusalem? There is gevurah, the strength and discipline necessary in life, that is out of balance, throwing me into a constant fear: netzach gone wrong. The sefirot get lower in the body, and there’s room to breathe: hod, this place of humility and resilience is here too. Can I get deeper in my understanding of humanity, with a willingness to connect to someone who has lived a different narrative than mine? Can I hold my questions in the same spaces that welcome my feelings of connection and celebration?

The word yoga means unification, the act of bringing together the dynamic balance of complementary contrasts. There’s more cosmology where that came from, and a participation in the concrete nature of today. How can I, from this seat of nobility, control and power, wrestle with and stay connected to every part of my home? I am a part of Am Yisrael, and I will wrestle in dynamic balance with every moment that feels like it will pull me apart. Jerusalem is my home, and it starts with love. A deep love that can hold space for every troubling moment. Instead of the municipal-sponsored flag parade which allows space for the kind of pride in Jerusalem that reminds me how much racism still exists in the world, I’ll walk through the Old City with Tag Meir on Sunday afternoon. There are many places for celebrating the vibrant and tolerant place Jerusalem can be. I’ll show up to as many as I can.

A practice for today, chesed sh’b’malchut:
Place your hands, four corners of the hand connected to the ground, and soften what you can: your skin, your eyebrows, your jaw, your shoulder blades onto your back. That’s chesed, softening what can be softened while staying with the effort of engagement. Bend both knees and shift your hips back. Hug the shins towards each other and notice the surge of strength that comes from within. This is what Jerusalem needs. This is what Jewish education needs. A willingness to stay connected, gathering all strength into the softest place, and staying present. Chesed sh’b’malchut, its own unifying force for good.

About the Author
Rebecca lives in Jerusalem with an unparalleled devotion to handstands, Jewish experiential education and showtunes. She works as an educator here and abroad, teaching yoga and performing in Israel.
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