PHOTO: The Jan. 9 Community Wellness Havdalah provided an opportunity to find healing in Jewish tradition. Rabbi Barry Cohen said the spices remind us to use all of our senses to nourish our souls. See recording at jewishportland.org/wellnesshavdalah.
Long before rioters stormed our Capitol, Br’iut & B’rachot: A Community Wellness Havdalah was planned for Jan. 9 on Zoom.
The event was designed to bring the community together to nurture our mental health and wellness and celebrate the start of a new week and a new year. It took on a deeper need for healing following the insurrection in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021.
Community Chaplain Rabbi Barry Cohen and Cantorial Soloist Ilene Safyan led the Havdalah service to close Shabbat and find strength for healing.
“What a week we just had,” said Rabbi Cohen to begin the evening. He continued:
“Amidst a pandemic, we watched the desecration of our nation’s Capitol and of our democracy. We were horrified by insurrectionists and rioters, many who waved or wore Confederate, Neo-Nazi and racist flags or clothing.
I can imagine our range of emotions.
While it will not be easy to heal from this trauma, together, we can find ways to repair our shattered hearts and dreams.
This Havdalah can help.”
Before singing “Light is Returning,” Safyan said: “Tonight, I also feel the precarious nature of the big things...our democracy, so precious and also, fragile. It feels dark tonight. And yet, tonight, we are privileged to light our candles together.” (See below.)
The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and PJ Library sponsored the event.
“Light is Returning”
Cantorial Soloist Ilene Safyan (left) sang at two programs in the wake the darkness that descended Jan. 6, 2021. At the Wellness Havdalah Jan. 9, she sang “Light is Returning.” Here is her introduction to the song, followed by the powerful and appropriate lyrics.
“This year, this week, this moment. These are complicated times…..
The small ways we’ve discovered to build new rhythms into our lives; to find beauty and meaning, to cope with new challenges. How precious it feels to gather together virtually or in person. It feels precious and yet, uncertain.
Tonight, I also feel the precarious nature of the big things...our democracy, so precious and also, fragile. It feels dark tonight. And yet, tonight, we are privileged to light our candles together. Anne Frank wrote: ‘Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.’ We will light our candles tonight and these fragile flames will light that darkness. They will burn brightly and light our paths, leading us into a new week. Together, let us turn our eyes to the light and draw strength from it, and together, may we find hope in the light these candles bring. Light and Darkness. Fragility and Strength. It is good to be here together.”
Light is returning
Even though it is the darkest hour
No one can hold back the dawn
Let’s keep it burning,
Let’s keep the light of hope alive
Make safe our Journey through the storm
Our Planet is turning
Circling her path around the sun
It’s time to make earth our sacred home.