Standing Up for Standing Rock: A Meditation

Kavannah (Intention)

At this point people can remain seated, or stand normally depending on your environment, while the kavannah is given.

We learn in this week’s parashah, Vayeitze, a lot of wisdom from rocks. Jacob sets up two pillars of stone that bookend the parashah, one as a witness to God, and the other as a sign of a pact between him and Laban. He also moves a giant stone by himself. We are told that Jacob, “Vayasem o’tah matzeyvah, וישם אותה מצבה,” set up the rock as a pillar.

Rocks are set up; are stood up as witnesses.

This week in standing rock we celebrate a victory. A victory for native sovereignty and for the environment. By celebrating we bear witness.

We also know that this victory here does not by any means equal a complete victory, and thus we remain vigilant, especially given the fact that the company behind Dakota Access Pipeline have issued a statement saying they plan to complete construction without any changes.

We must not stop now, and yet we would be remiss not to celebrate the native leaders, water protectors, and also our own leaders in our community here at RRC; all of the students and faculty who participated in supporting standing rock, from attending a rally, donating money and writing op-eds, to being arrested at protests and traveling to Standing Rock Sioux Reservation itself. 


Read the following sentences slowly, pausing between each one, allowing people to sink into the meditative focus.

I invite everyone to rise now in body or in spirit and assume a position like a pillar of stone. Connect your feet to the ground in a wide stance if you are able. Take a deep breath, and straighten your spine. Feel supported by the earth. Feel strong. Feel inspired by the fierce leadership of the water protectors who stood like pillars of stone as they faced the water cannons and tear gas. Stand as a pillar of stone as a witness to how we have seen God at Standing Rock.


Close with shehekheyhanu. 

This ritual was originally used in community davening at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College on Dec. 6, 2016.

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