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We Rise Up

We Rise Up

Rise Up! I’ve been thinking a lot about this phrase since the early days of the pandemic, even before we chose the words of Rav Kook as the touchstone for this most unique high holy day season. Like many during COVID, I became the steward of a sourdough starter — with thanks to Simmie Berman and Audrey Lyon, the grandmother and mother, respectively, of mine. I now spend time each week coaxing little bubbles to form on my newly-fed mixture of flour and water, so it will rise up and form a beautiful loaf of bread to feed my family.

I also found myself thinking about other ways we rise up, or perhaps “rise to the occasion”. This got me thinking about our Adat Shalom community and how, when confronted with this most challenging time, we have risen to the occasion for others. Early on in COVID-times, we asked if folks needed any help — we got more offers to help than requests for help. We are a community that continues to rise up.

When I pulled my first bread out of the oven, crusty on the outside and filled with those big holes on the inside, I instinctively wanted to say a Shehecheyanu. It’s the prayer that my family recites when we are all together after a long time apart (we are still waiting for that day), on the first night of Chanukah, at the first seder, and other important moments — secular and Jewish.

Since proximity to my favorite human rabbis is limited these days, I consulted my other favorite Rabbi, Rabbi Google. I learned that the Shehecheyanu prayer has been recited since the days of the Talmud, about 2000 years ago. And there, right in the middle of the prayer, is the word, vkiymanu — often defined as “sustains us” but we can also think of it as “who raises us up.” Just as the bubbles support the bread and our community supports each other, reciting the Shehecheyanu not only gives us the opportunity to recognize having reached a particularly notable moment in time, but it also gives us the koach —the strength to rise up.

Join me as we recite it together:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Haolam, 
shehechiyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You Eternal Spirit who has given us life, raised us up, and allowed us to arrive at this moment.

Rena Milchberg

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