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Taking time for silence and experiencing the holy

12/18/2019 03:39:18 PM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

Last Friday night, Rabbi Berry and I stood in silence with 5,000 Jews, who had gathered for the Reform Movement’s Biennial Conference. Every other year, thousands of Jews from across North America and around the world gather to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring speakers and the leader of our movement, reunite with old friends, create new connections and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement.
This year’s conference did not disappoint. I attended a variety of learning sessions (one of my favorites focused on the act of sacred volunteering), caught up with friends from rabbinical school and summer camp, and engaged in serious conversations about key issues facing our movement and our world. I returned home tired (a few too many late nights laughing and talking with old friends), but deeply moved and energized about the work we can do together.
But my favorite moment of the conference occurred during Friday night services in a very large gathering space. During the Amidah, we all stood together in silent prayer. Now, not all silence is equal. Some silence is due to anger or oppression. Some silence is meditative and introspective. Some silence is holy and chosen.
One would think that creating an opportunity for silent prayer would be almost impossible as it is not exactly intimate to pray with 5,000 of your closest friends. And yet, the holy silence of 5,000 people standing together in sacred community moved me to tears. It was a silence of connection and community, of justice and diversity, of innovation and possibility.
Sometimes words get in the way. We throw them about thoughtlessly, forgetting that sometimes simply being together is what matters. It was a good reminder to always take some time for silence – to clear your head, deepen your breath and experience the holy.

Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780