By Dr. Laura Herman, Dr. Erica Brown, and Ilana Aisen
“When I can’t see the divine sparks in everyone then the problem is with my eyes. Blessed is God who opens my eyes.”
Jewish communal professionals can play a critical role in healing the current divisiveness in our political landscape as role models of integrity and compassion. Our words and actions impact our work and inspire the communities of meaning that we seek to build and strengthen. This is both a responsibility and a sacred opportunity.
Leaning into this aspect of our work requires the mindfulness to be a unifier in a time of national tension. To that end, we’d like to share the stunning kavannot – intentions – that we collected from a post-Election Day gathering of Jewish communal professionals across the United States. Taking inspiration from “Post-Election Prayers,” we invited participants to reflect on the professional, emotional and spiritual challenges ahead. They were so beautiful, we could not keep them to ourselves.
May we empower ourselves and those around us with courage and calm, conviction and tolerance, purpose and patience, and empathy for all, recognizing that many wins for some involve losses for others.
I pray for a community free of hate and full of eager empathy.
I pray for a community that hears, and listens; that will go behind and beyond the rhetoric to deeper personal understanding
I pray for strength to channel the emotion and anger and disillusionment I feel at this moment in order to continue the critical work of racial justice and healing.
I pray for the ability to guide our divided community to a return to communication, respect and civility.
G-d grant me the serenity to accept people’s views that are not my own; the courage to respect them fully; and the wisdom to learn from them every day.
I pray for peace, for healing, for a listening ear, for graciousness, for openness, for love, respect, acceptance, wide embrace, good eye, tolerance and for space for other.
To seek empathy and humanity with the same zeal we fought for electing the “correct” political leader.
G-d give us the strength, power, wisdom and fortitude to do what is right, what is fair and what is within our power with kindness, patience and chesed.
May the year ahead allow for more understanding of one another, for hearing one another as opposed to reacting to one another, for allowing people to come into our institutions whole in their identity, and for our organizations to continue to make our world a little bit better. Blessed are you who created us all in your image.
God, grant me the courage and listening skills to seek understanding of all perspectives and motivations. Grant me the audacity and confidence to pursue change and take risks. Grant me humility and power to support and amplify the voices of those who have been oppressed. Grant me patience and perseverance in times of strife, set-backs, and sadness. Blessed are You, God, Creator of hope.
This was an exercise of hope. As we continue to reflect on and learn from this election, we highly recommend that you take a few moments in your own day to craft a kavanna that speaks to you at this time or try this exercise with your staff or board. Through this challenge, we can elevate our work as we rise to be fully present in this leadership moment.
Dr. Laura Herman is the Program and Evaluation Manager at JPRO Network.
Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University and director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership.
Ilana Aisen is CEO at JPRO Network.