Making Transitions, Jewishly
The canon of Jewish ritual tradition prepares us for what it means to make transitions. From the weekly Havdalah ceremony, marking the shift between Shabbat and the rest of the week, to the process of immersing in the mikvah, or ritual bath, to signify a transition between states of impurity and purity (as well as a plethora of other life transitions), our tradition is full of opportunities to meaningfully mark the shift between various states of being. It’s interesting that we frame these as transition points – not as endings. Rather than saying that Havdalah marks the end of Shabbat, for example, we as educators generally take special care to clarify that it’s a lingering shift from one to the other, sharing with our learners beautiful stories about how ritual objects such as the spices are used to extend the special feeling of Shabbat, allowing it to linger into the new week. Instead of hard and fast changes that leave us with spiritual whiplash, the Jewish way is to ease ourselves in. We count the steps in and out of the mikvah, rather than simply jumping in. In all that we do, we’re about the process.
What, then, should the Jewish way of marking a new beginning, but also an ending, be?
All of that is to say, I’m moving. It’s bittersweet, to say the least. As I’ve written about previously, for the last four years, I’ve had the honor of living in, working in, and being part of the Jewish community in the Washington, DC area. This is a community that’s embraced me, empowered me, and left an indelible mark on me. I’m sad to be leaving the colleagues and friends who have become like family to me, but am excited for the new opportunities + challenges ahead. I’ll share details more in the coming weeks, but for now, my new destination is Cleveland, Ohio.
Right now, I’m in that stage of in between. The time when the boxes are multiplying faster than they’re being packed, when each item checked off the to do list is replaced threefold, and when every social interaction is yet another goodbye. It’s a lot more of going through the motions than finding actual meaning, which feels unfulfilling, and leaves me wanting more.
So, how does one move Jewishly?
I know how to create a Jewish home – my mezuzah is ready to be put on the new house, the books are ready to overwhelm the movers, and we even have Shabbat dinner plans for our first week thanks to our welcoming new community. But while the rituals are prepared to start the new, I still feel compelled to honor the old.