Hineni. Here I am.
I sat in temple on Rosh Hashana, six feet and an extra row away from the few congregants who chose to come in person, mask on and heart open, I listened to these words recited.
I’ve heard them every year…I was struck by them in a new way.
Here I am.
The expression used throughout the Torah during moments of profound change or crisis. An expression conveying millions of years of our individual and collective quest to “show up” in the presence of a force bigger than ourselves, for ourselves, and for our communities.
If ever there was a year demanding us to “show up” this has been one. From COVID to floods and fires and refugee crises…our consciousness has had a lot to hold.
It can be all too easy to shut down. To throw up our hands. And to say “what can I do?”
That question “what can I do?” is one I asked myself during the crisis that unfolded in Palestine and Israel In May 2021.
For days, watching the horrifying headlines, I felt powerless. Then these words came to me and I shared them in a post:
“Swirling in a sea of uncertainty
My voice, tenuously found over the last few years, silent again
I don’t know enough, I tell myself
But deep down, feel this to be untrue
In the quiet of my late-night scrolling, searching for answers I never find, instead I reveal some truths within.
We are all deeply connected
The harm to one mother and her child is harm to every mother and every child, regardless of our differences
A history of oppression and casting out can never justify more of the same
Extremism in any form becomes a cancer
Silence and doing nothing is a choice. A choice I cannot make.
So I will remember I am not alone
There are guides all around me
And ways to make an impact that will reveal themselves
If I just take a first step.”
The very next day, in a conversation with my mother, I learned about the Parents Circle, an organization of Palestinian and Israelis who have lost children or family members in the conflict and come together to work toward peace and reconciliation.
Soon after, I found myself recording a conversation with a Palestinian and Israeli mother from the Parents Circle for the Mother’s Quest Podcast.
And a week after that, I began to raise money for a $10,000 fund for bereaved Palestinian and Israeli mothers of the Parents Circle’s Women’s Group.
Since then, the path, for me, from recording to release, has been a slow but thoughtful one.
As I carefully edit the episode and prepare it for release next week, I’ve made a commitment to raise $5,000 of the $10,000 goal upfront before the episode comes out.
I’ve been moved by so many, like Jena Schwartz, the first to donate, who have already contributed in amounts of all sizes.
And we have more to go.
Though the height of the crisis in May has receded from the headlines, the path for peace and reconciliation is needed more than ever.
So I show up again now through this strangely spiritual medium for me… a screen on Facebook.
Just a day before Yom Kippur, I look within, and imperfectly grasp for words to invite you, whatever your faith, to be part of this cause.
I ask you to help me amplify the voices of mothers closest to this conflict. They are, I am certain, a key to any path forward.
Hineni. Here I am.
Where are you?
Will you join me?