By Sarah Waxman
No symbol or shape brings people together and signifies unity quite like the circle. And, it’s not a coincidence that despite the changes the world has endured, whether 4,000 years, 80 years or even 8 weeks ago, the ritual of Rosh Chodesh – women coming together around the new moon – has endured. In this time of physical distance, the need for creative, sacred spaces is more important than ever before. Together with At The Well, Jewish women today are answering that call, finding ways to gather in virtual circles and create sacred spaces of healing.
In the last four years, At The Well has created a vast canon of resources to support groups of women who meet every month around the new moon, called Well Circles. Based on the ancient Jewish ritual of Rosh Chodesh, Well Circles are for women and by women; a time for reflection, connections, and intention setting.
Today, At The Well is working to ensure these important gatherings are able to continue serving as a source of spiritual connection, support, and community.
As a place for belonging, gathering, processing and uplifting during COVID-19, we’ve seen Well Circles seamlessly transition to online gatherings on their own. Using video conferencing services, digital Well Circles are able to hold space for participants remotely, without compromising connection, sanctity or impact. From opening and closing rituals like lighting candles together and taking unified breaths, to mind, body, heart “check-ins,” At The Well has been able to preserve the integrity of this ancient ritual while meeting the needs of modern times.
“At this very moment, all around the world, people are feeling stuck in their apartments, their freedom being taken away. But as a community, as women, we always find the strength to overcome challenges, open our hearts and share love to bring light. On Wednesday, we will be coming together, and feel again as One, a free and joyful One.”
– N.A., Virtual Well Circle Participant
While these digital gatherings are far from traditional, it’s been incredible to see how we’ve been able to move quickly and adjust to the needs of our community and meet demand. In the last two weeks of March, we received over 200+ requests asking for support with creating or joining a Virtual Well Circle. We knew in that moment, this is just the beginning of what is becoming a global Virtual Well Circle movement.
To meet this unprecedented demand, our team began providing Virtual Well Circle coaching, webinars, and online resources to help women start their virtual Well Circles, but this is just one small part of the support we hope to be able to provide.
We know that Well Circles hold a healing and sacred space of belonging when we need it most – and now is one of those moments. Our mission is to support women on their path to wholeness – a place where they are in touch with their bodies, their Jewish spirituality, and their community.
“I loved the Circle last week!! It was so great being just between women and I really loved linking Judaism with what we are experiencing right now.”
-E.Y., Virtual Well Circle Participant
Like many other Jewish organizations, we’re adapting to this moment by turning to modern tools to help Jewish people across the planet connect more deeply to their Judaism. At The Well stands apart as a Jewish women’s Wellness leader, nestled between the contemporary wellness movement and ancient Jewish rituals. At The Well is reaching people that want to root more deeply in traditional practices to help them thrive in a new and ever-changing world. Given our unique positioning, we’ve become a go-to Jewish organization for leading and collaborating on wellness events, learning opportunities, and training sessions for other Jewish leaders to help them bring Well Circles to their own communities.
At this moment, At The Well is doing the work to ensure the continuation of this beautiful, ancient ritual of women’s spiritual gatherings to nourish the deeper connections and bring not only more wellness, but more Judaism into the world. Together we can unite in one healing circle, to learn and celebrate with Judaism and come out stronger than we ever have been before.
Sarah Waxman is Founder and Executive Director, At The Well.