Mass Mobilization Resilience Resources

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action | November 2020


This election is the most important election in our lifetime. The stakes are high, but we know that we have the numbers we need to win and remove Trump and his enablers from office.

On Saturday, November 7th, the Democracy Defense Coalition and communities across the country are participating in a National Day of Action to let our leaders know that voters decide the outcome of this election. Please join us if it’s within your shabbat and covid safety practices.

This resource can support our Jewish community to show up as part of a broad coalition demanding justice and accountability on November 7th and beyond, so that we can continue the work to build a multiracial democracy where we are all truly safe and free. This guide draws from the wisdom of Jewish tradition and the wisdom of our movements to help ground and sustain us  as we continue the work of creating the world as it should be.

In this guide:
November 7th Havdalah Action
Opening Framing
Havdalah ritual
Pre-Action Rituals and Groundings
Intentions and Kavanot
Jewish Texts to Ground Ourselves In
Stories of Resistance and Resilience
Action Groundings, Chants and Songs
Chanting & Singing
Post Action Rituals and Groundings
Ritual to Calm Your Nervous System post-Action
Post Action Kavanot
Post Action Group Reflection Prompts

November 7th Havdalah Action
Instructions for Havdalah Action
Our movement for multiracial democracy is stronger when our many beliefs and traditions are woven together.

If you are planning a mobilization for November 7th that has a multifaith component, consider incorporating the following Jewish ritual into your action. Alternatively, you can use it as a way to regroup and close out afterwards. This ritual can also be done over zoom and at any Saturday evening mobilization throughout the rest of November and beyond.

Note: This language was developed pre-election day and the events of election week are still unknown to us as we write this document. This is intended to be a broad framework. We encourage you to adapt this language to create whatever tone feels right to you based on your particular context. A good Havdalah ritual will speak to the moment and give people what they need to move into the long fight ahead.

Opening Framing
Tonight is Saturday night. In Jewish tradition, this is the time we come out of the restfulness of Shabbat  and prepare ourselves to get back to work. During Shabbat, we live in the world as it should be. During Havdalah — the ritual that brings us from Shabbat into the week — we transition back into the world as it exists right now. Tonight, we mark the transition from the long period of uncertainty surrounding this election season and prepare for the long fight for justice ahead of us.

We can use this time of Havdalah to take the step together into the next stage of our work, renewed and reinvigorated.

Havdalah ritual
The Havdalah ritual begins with blessing a cup of wine. This blessing marks our transformation back into people who take action after our Shabbat of rest. Right now, we may especially desire deliverance from the uncertainty of the past weeks and months.  As we transition from this long and strange election season, and into post-election America, we can begin to plan what our next chapter of work will look like. We can use this opportunity to ask ourselves:  What’s next for the fight and for our movements? What does taking action mean for me this week? Where can I show up? Or simply, where do we go from here?

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen. Amen.
Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

The next part of the Havdalah ritual is easing our transition out of the sweetness of Shabbat by smelling sweet spices. There is no denying that we are in an intense moment in our fight for justice. We might notice fear and anxiety continuing to rise within us as we think about the state of our country, the state of our democracy, and the state of our world. Taking time to breathe in the fragrant smell of our favorite spices — or even just to breathe — can bring us back into our bodies so we are ready to head into whatever comes next, grounded and able to take action in line with our values.

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, borei minei v’samim.
Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, Creator of many kinds of spices.

(Invite people to breathe together.)

Flames of the candle
What ignites your fire for justice? We have been through so much this election cycle, this past year, these four years. Many of us have been experiencing and fighting systemic injustice our whole lives. What drives you to keep your pursuit going in hopeless moments? The candle flames give us the opportunity to reflect and consider what drives us to stay in the fight in this moment.

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, borei m’orei ha-eish.
Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, Creator of the fire’s light.

Concluding prayer
We conclude our Havdalah ritual by blessing distinction and separation. We need to be able to sustain this beautiful multiracial, multifaith movement. We know building the world we want is not a sprint, and it isn’t a marathon either. Instead, we can think of it as a relay race. Today we are acting with the urgency this moment calls for. But we also need the wisdom to know when it’s time to pass the baton to others and rest up, so we can keep moving forward.

As we recognize and bless distinction, may we find the wisdom to distinguish between moments of action and moments of planning. Moments of making good trouble and moments of healing. Moments of rejuvenation and moments of pushing forward with everything we’ve got.

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’khol, bein or-le’khoshekh, bein ha-amim, bein yom ha-shevi’i l’sheshet y’mai ha-ma’aseh. Barukh ata Adonai, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’khol.
Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, between light and darkness, between people of the world, between the seventh day and the six days of the week. Blessed are You, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane.

As we close out our Havdalah ritual, we remind ourselves to draw water from the many wells that inspire us to take collective action and change the world around us. Renewed, we act out of love and mutual solidarity. May we emerge into the week refreshed ready to fight for a world of peace and plenty, a world where all are treated with dignity,  a world of collective liberation where we all are able to thrive — a world in which human diversity is a wonder and a delight, not a provocation met with violence.

Pre-Action Rituals and Groundings

Intentions and Kavannot

Prayer for our Country
Our God and God of our ancestors, bless this country and all who dwell within it.
Help us to experience the blessings of our lives and circumstances
To be vigilant, compassionate, and brave
Strengthen us when we are afraid
Help us to channel our anger
So that it motivates us to action
Help us to feel our fear
So that we do not become numb
Help us to be generous with others
So that we raise each other up
Help us to be humble in our fear, knowing that as vulnerable as we feel there are those at greater risk,
And that it is our holy work to stand with them
Help us to taste the sweetness of liberty
To not take for granted the freedoms won in generations past or in recent days
To heal and nourish our democracy, that it may be like a tree planted by the water whose roots reach down to the stream
It need not fear drought when it comes, its leaves are always green
Source of all Life,
Guide our leaders with righteousness
Strengthen their hearts but keep them from hardening
That they may use their influence and authority to speak truth and act for justice
May all who dwell in this country share in its bounty, enjoy its freedoms and be protected by its laws
May this nation use its power and wealth to be a voice for justice, peace and equality for all who dwell on earth
May we be strong and have courage
To be bold in our action and deep in our compassion
To discern when we must listen and when we must act
To uproot bigotry, intolerance, misogyny, racism, discrimination and violence in all its forms
To celebrate the many faces of God reflected in the wondrous diversity of humanity
To welcome the stranger and the immigrant and to honor the gifts of those who seek refuge and possibility here,
As they have since before this nation was born
Let justice well up like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream
(Jeremiah 17:8; Isaiah 16:3–5; Amos 5:24)
—Rabbi Ayelet Cohen 

Prayer for Restoration

To the One who demands justice:
Inspire us to become rodfei tzedek,
pursuers of justice,
in our lives and in our communities.
Give us the strength to resist power
wielded with fear and dread;
fill us with the vision and purpose
to build a power yet greater,
a power rooted in solidarity,
liberation and love.
Grant us the courage to dismantle
systems of oppression –
and when they are no more,
let us dedicate our wealth and resources
toward the well-being of all.
May we abolish all forms of state violence
that we we might make way for a world
free of racism and militarization,
a world where no one profits
off the misery of others,
a world where the bills owed those who have been
colonized, enslaved and dispossessed
are finally paid in full.
Inspire us with the knowledge
that real justice is indeed at hand,
that we may realize
the world we know is possible,
right here, right now,
in our own day.
May our thoughts and our hopes,
our words and our deeds
guide us toward a future of reparation,
of restoration, of justice,
al kol yoshvei teivel,
for all who dwell on earth,

—Rabbi Brant Rosen

Kavannah for Taking Action through Love 
“This is love work. Love is one of those words that is hard to define. But in the context of this work, here is what it means to me: It means that you do this work because you believe in something greater than your own self-gain. It means you do this work because you believe that every human being deserves dignity, freedom, and equality. It means you do this work because you desire wholeness for yourself and the world. It means you do this work because you desire wholeness for yourself and the world. It means you do this work because you want to be a good ancestor. It means you do this work because love is not a verb to you but an action.”

—Layla Saad, Me and White Supremacy

Kavannah for Grounding in Hope
This exercise can be done individually or with a group. If a group, choose one person to read the description once through.
Contemplate the idea that God is really there and that the moral arc of the universe does bend toward justice. Ultimately the world will be repaired, social justice achieved, war ended and humanity will be at peace with the earth and larger universe.
How does believing in this outcome impact the way you think about your change efforts? 
(Source: Resources for Changing the World from the Inside Out, by Rabbi David Jaffe)

Kavannah for Connecting to the Good Within Us
You must search for the good in yourself.
When you start looking deep within yourself, you may think there is no good in you at all. You may feel you are full of evil: a negative voice inside you may try to drive you into depression. But you must not allow yourself to fall into depression. Search until you find some little good in you. For how could it be that you never did anything good in your whole life?
When you start to examine the good you have done, you may see many flaws. Maybe you did what you did for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. Even so, how could it be that your mitzvah or good deed contains no good at all? It must contain some element of good.
You must search and search until you find some good point within you to give you new life and happiness. When you discover the good that is still inside you, you literally swing the scales from guilt to merit. This will enable you to return to God. The good you find inside you will give you new life and bring joy to your soul.
Having found one good point, you must continue searching until you find another. Even if you think this good point is also full of flaws, you must still search for some good in it. In the same way, you must continue finding more and more good points.
—Rebbe Nachman of Brestlov, Likutey Moharan I, 282

Kavannah for Connecting to Our Righteous Indignation
Let our anger always be “for the sake of heaven.” Let our anger be directed toward the kelipot (forces of harm) in the people who upset us and not in the people themselves.

Help us understand that the kelipot scare them into causing harm.

Then, we can use our anger to bring the kelipot under the sway of holiness and justice
—Adapted from Rebbe Dov Baer of Mezeritch

Jewish Texts to Ground Ourselves In
Isaiah 58:5–8
ה הֲכָזֶ֗ה יִֽהְיֶה֙ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵ֔הוּ י֛וֹם עַנּ֥וֹת אָדָ֖ם נַפְשׁ֑וֹ הֲלָכֹ֨ף כְּאַגְמֹ֜ן רֹאשׁ֗וֹ וְשַׂ֤ק וָאֵ֙פֶר֙ יַצִּ֔יעַ הֲלָזֶה֙ תִּקְרָא־צ֔וֹם וְי֥וֹם רָצ֖וֹן לַיהוָֽה׃ ו הֲל֣וֹא זֶה֮ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵהוּ֒ פַּתֵּ֙חַ֙ חַרְצֻבּ֣וֹת רֶ֔שַׁע הַתֵּ֖ר אֲגֻדּ֣וֹת מוֹטָ֑ה וְשַׁלַּ֤ח רְצוּצִים֙ חָפְשִׁ֔ים וְכָל־מוֹטָ֖ה תְּנַתֵּֽקוּ׃ ז הֲל֨וֹא פָרֹ֤ס לָֽרָעֵב֙ לַחְמֶ֔ךָ וַעֲנִיִּ֥ים מְרוּדִ֖ים תָּ֣בִיא בָ֑יִת כִּֽי־תִרְאֶ֤ה עָרֹם֙ וְכִסִּית֔וֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תִתְעַלָּֽם׃ ח אָ֣ז יִבָּקַ֤ע כַּשַּׁ֙חַר֙ אוֹרֶ֔ךָ וַאֲרֻכָתְךָ֖ מְהֵרָ֣ה תִצְמָ֑ח וְהָלַ֤ךְ לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙ צִדְקֶ֔ךָ כְּב֥וֹד יְהוָ֖ה יַאַסְפֶֽךָ׃
5 Is this the fast I desire: a day for people to starve their bodies? Is it bowing your head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when Adonai is favorable? 6 No, this is the fast I desire: to unlock the shackles of dehumanization, and untie the cords of injustice. To let the oppressed go free; to break every form of subjugation. 7 It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the impoverished and unhoused into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to ignore your fellow human. 8 Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing spring up quickly; your yearning for justice shall go in front of you, and the presence of Adonai shall gather you together in solidarity.
Not too long ago on Yom Kippur, we read this Haftarah portion to remind ourselves that our prayers and rituals can be  harmful if they lead to self-righteousness or complacency with the status quo, when we’re instead called by the blowing of the Shofar to transform ourselves and our societies towards justice. So too in this moment, it is not enough to express faith that the institutions and traditions of our democracy to defend us! No, we must mobilize our people and take action to defend democracy from white nationalism and authoritarianism.

Esther 4:13–14
יג וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מָרְדֳּכַ֖י לְהָשִׁ֣יב אֶל־אֶסְתֵּ֑ר אַל־תְּדַמִּ֣י בְנַפְשֵׁ֔ךְ לְהִמָּלֵ֥ט בֵּית־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מִכָּל־הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ יד כִּ֣י אִם־הַחֲרֵ֣שׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי֮ בָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּאת֒ רֶ֣וַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַעֲמ֤וֹד לַיְּהוּדִים֙ מִמָּק֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת׃
Mordecai had this message delivered to Esther: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and redemption will come to the Jews from somewhere else, while you and your father’s house will have to live with the consequences of your inaction. And who knows, perhaps you have come to a position of power for a moment just like this one?!”
At a time when our democracy is under urgent threat, some find themselves with different amounts of privilege, power and resources. We must not hide in those comforts, but rather take necessary risks to protect our communities and defend democracy. If we don’t, there are others who will take up the mantle, but we will have to live with the knowledge that we didn’t do everything we could have to defend our democracy.
As was the case with Esther, the hardest things to do are often those that we are in a perfect position to take on! What do you feel your particular role and contribution is in “a moment just like this one?”

Mishnah Avot (Pirkei Avot) 1:14
?הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר: אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי מִי לִי? וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי מָה אֲנִי? וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו אֵימָתָי

Hillel used to say: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?!”

When our democracy is endangered by voter suppression and white nationalist violence, none of us will find safety and liberation – whether as individuals or as a Jewish people – without solidarity with everyone and especially the leadership of BIPOC communities and Jews of Color. If we do not safeguard the hope of multiracial democracy right now, WHEN will we? This vision of our ancestors can not wait one second longer.

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b
כׇּל מִי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לִמְחוֹת לְאַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ וְלֹא מִיחָה, נִתְפָּס עַל אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ. בְּאַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ, נִתְפָּס עַל אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ. בְּכָל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ, נִתְפָּס עַל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ.
Anyone who can protest against the injustices of their family and does not, is responsible for the injustices of the members of the family; anyone who can protest against the injustices of their city and does not, is responsible for the injustice of the those who live in the city; anyone who can protest against the injustices of the entire world and does not, is responsible for the injustices of the entire world.
The struggle to defeat white supremacy and racism must happen everywhere: within ourselves, among our families and circles of friends, throughout our cities, in the soul of America and around the world. We are all responsible for one another, which means that only when we care for another can we dismantle the oppressive systems of Otherness and build Olam Hesed (a world of love).

Stories of Resistance and Resilience

“Uprising of 20,000”: The 1909 New York Shirtwaist Strike
In the early 1900s, the garment industry was one of the only avenues of employment available to Yiddish-speaking, Jewish immigrant women in New York City, who often worked at shirtwaist factories where they faced atrocious working conditions: crowded and unsanitary sweatshops, long work days, frequent accidents, and miserable wages.

Led by Ukrainian-born Clara Lemlich of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, in the November 1909 thousands of workers decided they’d had enough and went on general strike! In the face of arrests and harassment from police and factory owners, 15,000–20,000 workers walked out of their factories and took to the streets of Manhattan! Their 11-week strike ended when the owners met their demands: better pay and shorter hours.

One only year later, at a memorial service after the horrendous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Rabbi Stephen S. Wise said this about protest and the dignity of human life: “The lesson of the hour is that while property is good, life is better, that while possessions are valuable, life is priceless. The meaning of the hour is that the life of the lowliest worker in the nation is sacred and inviolable, and, if that sacred human right be violated, we shall stand adjudged and condemned before the tribunal of God and of history.”

(Source: Out of the Sweatshop: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy, Leon Stein (ed.), New York, The New York Times Book, Co., 1977, 367 p. 195)

Mir Veln Zey Iberlebn — We Will Outlive Them
As the story goes: In 1939, Nazis surrounded a group of Jews from Lublin, Poland, backed up against barbed wire and ordered them to sing to their own execution. One man began to sing: מיר וועלן זיי איבערלעבן “Mir veln zey iberlebn, iberlebn, iberlebn” —”We will outlive them.” The song took hold among the entire people, who, as they awaited their deaths, began to dance. They danced with joy, with resilience, with a life that could not be destroyed by fascism, militarism, or genocide. The commander saw this resilience. He recognized their defiance. They continued, even as the SS troops charged at them. Most lost their lives that day. And some lived to tell this story. We are here. We will outlive them. We will join forces and voices with others to fight so we can all outlive them, together.

Listen to the song Mir Veln Zey Iberlebn as performed by the klezmer band Tsibele, and sing along!

The Moroccan Jewish Struggle for Liberation

Moroccan Jews joined with their neighbors to fight for Moroccan independence from French Colonial Rule. The Moroccan political movement for independence began during the interwar period in the port city of Casablanca, where immigrant workers and rural Moroccans, Jews and Muslims lived side by side. When France fell to Germany in 1940, Vichy rule brought anti-Semitic legislation to the majority of North African Jews, inspiring many to reject the French vision of assimilation, in favor of a politics of radical national liberation. In the struggle for national liberation, achieved in 1956, politically active Moroccan Jews were attracted to the left independence party PCM, which welcomed religious and ethnic minorities as part of a more inclusive, universalist understanding of an independent Moroccan nation. Many Moroccan Jews heeded the call to action, dedicating their lives to liberation as active members of the PCM. Some even played key leadership roles in the party. Moroccan Jewish participation in radical social movements continued long after national liberation was won.

(Source: Heckman, Alma Rachel. “Jewish Radicals of Morocco: Case Study for a New Historiography.” Jewish Social Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2018)

Action Groundings, Chants and Songs

Grounding Exercises
Deepening our breathing, even for a moment, can help us soothe our anxiety, calm our panic, and restore a grounded nervous system. If you start to feel anxious while taking action and need to recenter, here are some tools you can use to do so:

Box breath
Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, release for 4 counts, and hold at the bottom for 4 counts. Repeat several times. Notice if your shoulders are able to drop, notice how thoughts and moods shift.

Body scan
Together, with the people you are taking action with, notice your bodies and what is happening for you internally. We spend a lot of time, especially if we are feeling unsafe, tracking what is happening outside of ourselves and in the minds of others. Take time (and breath!) to get curious about what is happening within your own body. Share out a mood and a sensation you noticed for the first time.

Healing in Action: A Black Lives Matter Toolkit

Chants & Songs
Chanting and group singing are another way to ground in shared purpose. Like the tools above, they can  help us regulate our nervous systems and connect with each other.

Healing in Action: A Black Lives Matter Toolkit

Below are chants and songs to have in your back pocket.

Rising up is what we do, justice justice we shall pursue!

When our communities are under attack, what do we do?
Stand up, fight back!

When our Democracy is under attack, what do we do?
Stand up, fight back!

“Show me what democracy looks like!” / “This is what democracy looks like!”

_______ was a freedom fighter and s/he taught us how to fight.  We’re gonna fight all day and night until we get it right.  What side are you on my people, what side are you on? (We’re on the freedom side!)


Courage My Friend
(The South African Anti-Apartheid Movement)
When the World is Sick
(Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band)
Rise For All Creation
(Peace Poets)
Open up the Gates
(Moshe Shur, english words by Joseph Berman & Batya Levine)
Rising Like Flowers
(Peace Poets)
Solid As A Rock
(Highlander Folk Center)
Light is Returning
(Charlie Murphy)
Towards Justice
(Eliana Light)
Gates of Justice
(Chana Rothman)
Songs to Stop a Coup
(The Peace Poets) 

Post Action Rituals and Groundings

Post Action Ritual to Calm Your Nervous System
If you’ve just been in an intense situation during a mass mobilization, it is crucial to attend to yourself and body right after. Here are some ways to connect to yourself, adapted from this incredible resource from Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein and Bobbie Breitman (LCSW):

Take a deep breath. Your mind might know that it is now safe, but it takes longer for the body to calm down. 

Option to say: Thank you Eternal One, for the drive for justice you have planted within me. Thank you for giving me the ability to do what I know is right, even in the face of physical danger. Thank you for bringing me safely to the other side. Thank you for continuously giving me opportunities to live in line with my values and co-create the world as it should be alongside you.
Modeh/Modah Ani lefanekha/lifanayikh

Close your eyes. Put one hand on your heart and the other on your belly.

Breathe naturally.  Bring your awareness to the sensation of warmth and gentle pressure of your hands on your heart and belly. This sends a somatic message to the nervous system that you are now safe, now ok. 

Option to say: Thank you Eternal One,  for the gifts of breath, the body, the senses. For a mind that thinks and a heart that feels. Thank you for giving my body and soul the tools they need to heal myself and the world.
Modeh/Modah Ani lefanekha/lifanayikh

Find a way to calm the nervous system, such as an Epsom salt bath, soothing music, time in nature, a massage, a yoga class, a nap.

Option to say: Thank you, Eternal One, for the gifts of your creation. Thank you for spreading your shelter of peace over me, and showing me how to slow down and take care of myself.
Modeh/Modah Ani lefanekha/lifanayikh

4. If you notice flashbacks or images from the time in danger arise, notice what happens in your body as that image is in your mind. Does your breathing change? Do muscles tighten? Does your heart rate increase? Is there a hollow sensation in the belly? A desire to cry? Tune in to your somatic experience and mindfully stay with yourself. What does your body need?

Option to say: Thank you, Eternal One, for the mysterious magic that allows my body to work. I marvel at its wisdom, at the wonder of what you have created. Thank you for allowing me to tune in to what I need right now. Thank you for giving me a body that always tries its best to protect me. 
Modeh/Modah Ani lefanekha/lifanayikh

5. If self care does not help within a few days, seek assistance from a psychologist with expertise in the treatment of trauma. 

Post Action Kavannot

Kavannah for Building Trust
Blessed is the person who trusts in the eternal one, and whose hope the eternal one is. For they shall be like a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not see when the heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be anxious in the year of drought, nor shall it cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7–8)
(Source: Resources for Changing the World from the Inside Out by Rabbi David Jaffe)

Blessing for a Just Society
Barukh sh’amar v’hayah ha’olam.

Blessed is the One who spoke and the world came into being.
Blessed are the words of creation.
Blessed is the creation of a loving and just society.
Blessed is the society that honors human dignity.
Blessed are those who know the call of justice.
And let us say: Amen.

Rabbi Alex Weissman

Kavannot for Rebooting/Resetting for the Next Phase in Our Fight for Justice 


Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up,
when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning
and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts,
embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders,
teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies,
recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire:
Another world is possible.

Thus spoke the prophet Roque Dalton:
All together they have more death than we,
but all together, we have more life than they.
There is more bloody death in their hands
than we could ever wield, unless
we lay down our souls to become them,
and then we will lose everything.  So instead,

imagine winning. This is your sacred task.
This is your power. Imagine
every detail of winning, the exact smell of the summer streets
in which no one has been shot, the muscles you have never
unclenched from worry, gone soft as newborn skin,
the sparkling taste of food when we know
that no one on earth is hungry, that the beggars are fed,
that the old man under the bridge and the woman
wrapping herself in thin sheets in the back seat of a car,
and the children who suck on stones,
nest under a flock of roofs that keep multiplying their shelter.
Lean with all your being towards that day
when the poor of the world shake down a rain of good fortune
out of the heavy clouds, and justice rolls down like waters.

Defend the world in which we win as if it were your child.
It is your child.
Defend it as if it were your lover.
It is your lover.

When you inhale and when you exhale
breathe the possibility of another world
into the 37.2 trillion cells of your body
until it shines with hope.
Then imagine more. 

Imagine rape is unimaginable. Imagine war is a scarcely credible rumor
That the crimes of our age, the grotesque inhumanities of greed,
the sheer and astounding shamelessness of it, the vast fortunes
made by stealing lives, the horrible normalcy it came to have,
is unimaginable to our heirs, the generations of the free.

Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth
Into the throat with which you sing.  Escalate your dreams.
Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down
any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way.
Make them burn clear as a starry drinking gourd
Over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.

Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining.
So that we, and the children of our children’s children
may live

—Aurora Levins Morales

But hope isn’t a choice, it’s a moral obligation, a human obligation, an obligation to the cells in your body.
Hope is a function of those cells, it’s a bodily function the same as breathing and eating and sleeping.
Hope is not naive, hope grapples endlessly with despair.
Real, vivid, powerful, thunderclap hope, like the soul, is at home in darkness, is divided; but lose your hope and you lose your soul, and you don’t want to do that, trust me,
even if you haven’t got a soul, and who can know such a thing, so you shouldn’t be careless about your soul.
…And so you must hope.
—Tony Kushner (Adapted)

Post Action Group Reflection Prompts

Invite people to lean into their imagination and encourage them to engage all of their senses. Close your eyes and imagine a liberated world. We’ve won, now what? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What does this world look like, smell like, feel like, etc? What pieces of the world stay the same? What’s different? After some time, ask people to share their piece of our collective future.

Discuss with your group:
What did you learn about yourself during this action?
What did you learn about taking action as a Jew?
What did you learn about your own stake in the work for justice?
What did you learn about this group?
What would it look like to deeply integrate these learnings in a way that builds deeper trust, relationships and commitment to our work?

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