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A Season to Engage our Grief through Creativity: The Three Weeks

Feeling our grief and pain, however hard it is to do, is what keeps us out of despair

The bad news keeps coming… shooting in a newsroom in Annapolis… children taken from their parents as they enter our country seeking safety… the Supreme Court upholding the Muslim ban… and on and on. We’re entering the heat of summer, and in the Jewish calendar, the Three Weeks, the period for communal mourning that commemorates the journey from the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem to the destruction of the Temple. This is a time to slow down, to allow ourselves to feel our pain for our world, for our fellow human beings who are terrorized and homeless and suffering, and for our common future. The Three Weeks, also known as bein hametzarim (in the narrow places), begins Sunday, July 1, 2018, with the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day (dawn to dusk).

Feeling our grief and pain, however hard it is to do, is what keeps us out of despair and opens us to clarity, compassion, and courage.  Avoiding our pain leads us to numbness. 

Join me in embracing these three weeks as a time to engage our grief through creativity. I invite you to keep a grief journal or explore grief through another creative medium, such as poetry, chant, collage, drawing, painting, or dance. Devote time, even if just a few minutes each day, to creatively explore the following questions: 

1. What news stories arouse my sadness and outrage?
2. What am I personally most fearful about? When I let myself consider the worst case scenario, what arises?
3. What does the Temple represent for me at this time? What is at stake to be lost with the destruction of the Temple? What values and institutions do I hold dear whose walls have been breached?
4. In reading the haftarah of admonition/rebuke for each of the Three Weeks, what phrases speak to me? (These can serve as writing prompts or inspiration for creative expression)

1) Jeremiah 1:1–2:3

2) Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1–2

3) Isaiah 1:1–1:27 (Read on Shabbat Hazon)

I plan to be writing and drawing to move through my grief over this next three weeks. Let’s share our creative expressions of grief here on Ritualwell. We invite you to submit your reflections on the Three Weeks here.  

Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein is a community leader and beloved teacher of spiritual practices. She has a gift for holding the space for individuals and groups to discover their resilience, courage, and deep knowing. She teaches Mussar through the Center for Contemporary Mussar and will be serving as the rabbi of Congregation Am Haskalah in Allentown, PA. She blogs at thrivingspirit.org.  

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