Jewish people are culturally-diverse citizens from all over the entire world and all walks of life. We are the healers of the world because we want Tikkun Olam, a return to wholeness and holiness. Culturally-diverse and Jewish people from all walks of life also have diverse God-given gifts which all may use in service of this higher calling we all share in the work of Tikkun Olam.
If everyone were to serve in the same exact way, we would not be able to accomplish the work. Rather, each person has their own unique and loveable set of skills, abilities and knowledge to help them do this work. Additionally, as each person listens and responds to their innate personal direction toward their unique calling, our parts or parshiot fit together like puzzle pieces to make one united and harmonious whole. It may be true that every one of us has our own distinct portion of the Torah to fulfill in order that the entire Torah become fulfilled. Of the total of 613 commandments, positive and negative ones (those things we are asked by God do and those we are asked by God not to do), it may be easier to do them in unity, with each of us taking a portion of them to do, so we might be able to fulfill them as a whole people. Without unity, the task for each individual may become too heavy. As one people, joined in love, we become capable of things we could not achieve separately or as disparate parts of the whole people.
Our beloved, brilliant Rabbi Hillel stated that while it was not upon us to finish the work, neither are we free to desist from it. This means that the nature of the world is such that it is unending, yet holding the innate capacity for transformation, and it will hopefully always exist as long as we do our part for good. As an unending, consistent and orderly world, it also means that there will always be work for us to do as Jewish and culturally diverse people. It is significant to recall that what we do and do not do every day matters. We are the ones holding the keys to the world’s transformation.
I am writing this blog because Jews are everywhere and we exist in every nook and cranny of the world, in every facet of every community. Even when we are not there physically, we are there spiritually. This is because all life is spiritual and interconnected, and because our identity as Jews is purposeful. Jewish people agreed to accept the Torah upon ourselves and because of this fact, we have been blessed with a unique mission, the higher calling to be healers for the world, and as such, we hold these divine keys to spiritual transformation.
Of course, many healers come from all traditions, and are not only Jews. There are Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc. Jews do our work alongside many others from many of the world’s religions. We may have also noticed during our travels throughout our lifetimes, that many world leaders and teachers, those who offer love, talent and inspiration, are in fact, Jewish.
We all have a special, worthy and honorable way of going about this work, depending on who we are individually, depending on our natural characteristics. Sometimes we may grow and change our traits in order to develop ourselves into the person we want to become in order to do the work we have come to do. Nonetheless, all of us have the power to change, grow and to heal ourselves into the strong people we need to become in order to do Tikkun Olam, the healing of the world.
Some people are social workers, some are civil rights attorneys, some are writers or bloggers, some are social justice artist-activists, some are massage therapists, some are technologists, some are environmental engineers, some are teachers or college professors and other knowledgeable instructors in every topic area. Some take journeys around the world to teach, as well as to learn and grow, and to become better healers for the others who need to be touched all over the world. They learn languages so they can relate to people of many cultures. They help people heal in their own language. Love is, of course, the language we must all speak to be heard and understood everywhere.
Many of us continuously teach the virtues that illuminate the good human qualities to develop in ourselves. These are called midot in the Jewish tradition, or personality traits. For example, refraining from gossip or idle talk is a worthy pursuit among humanity and especially those who are called to do so. When we engage solidly in the work of Tikkun Olam, we become less interested in the kind of talk that would undermine ourselves and our missions. Rather, we want to talk about the things that matter most in our world, our lives, our families, our communities, our cultures. We spend our time and energy this way, dedicated to higher pursuits. We can change our traits over time, and sometimes immediately with divine intervention, to become who we need to become in order to do the work of Tikkun Olam.
The world needs healers now. The Jewish people are always called to their mission to protect and preserve the life we love on earth. However, at times like these, more is required of us. Our people need to step up to the plate, so-to-speak, and do the best we can to teach the morals we ourselves are learning from our beautiful Torah.
As we step up and show up to do the work, we must include healing for our own population of culturally-diverse Jews as a priority and commit to our own self-care practices. As Jews we must heal among ourselves. We have wounds that are impeding our progress as healers of the world, getting in the way of what is possible as far as Tikkun Olam. This includes our wounds from thousands of years of persecution, discrimination, expulsion and excommunication. It includes festering wounds from the Holocaust during which time Jews and others were killed, tortured, maimed and massacred in one horrifying sweep of our people from the face of the earth. It includes recent attacks on synagogues and on our good, innocent people. It includes sexism, racism, classism, homophobia and ethnocentrism among our own people…
We must recall the imperative to love the stranger as we want to be loved. We remember this because we, also, were and in some cases still are strangers in a strange land… We want to be fair and good to others, treating strangers in our land well, because we, also, want to be treated well, with fairness and with kindness. This precept arises at least 36 times in our Torah, more than any other one.
Without healing, we may be unable to fulfill this precept from the Torah.
We must heal together now because all human beings have the tendency to act out on others what was done to them. I believe our complacency to stand idly by and not act for justice and fairness toward both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians is an outcome of our own oppression.
The healing could look like this:
- Organizing groups of Jewish people from all religious backgrounds, spiritual experiences and denominations for healing work together;
- Organizing groups of Jewish people from all cultures, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, nationalities, ethnicities, etc. for healing work together;
- Organizing groups of Jewish people to do outreach to other groups for healing work together;
- Healing together amongst ourselves as Jews and with other groups.
Personally, I am a psychotherapist with many years of experience, and I am familiar with healing methods. As such, I will be blogging further about how to use the methods I believe will be helpful in our ability to come together now as one unified people in Torah in every community. I also facilitate intracultural and intercultural dialogues and healing forums to build understanding, peace and unity.
Currently, we have an opportunity to dialogue with one another about the issues that really matter to us on the whole, those who strive for a life of safety, peace and security for all people. We want to avail ourselves and everyone to a life of chai, a life of thriving. We have an opportunity to form alliances of peace, love, harmony and unity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We have an opportunity to make things as right as possible for impoverished communities and those of color. We have an opportunity to end White-on-Black racism as well as racism against all people of color and heal together in group forums like Unity Theater™. We have an opportunity to let the land rest and celebrate a Jubilee Year next year. We have an opportunity to demand free food, shelter and clothes, having our basic human needs be met without having to work for them. If we choose to work, we must earn a living wage.
We were blessed with the Torah as our guide to life. It may not always make sense to us at first glance as it was transmitted long ago when times were different. However, when we say that, “It is a tree of life and all of its pathways are peace,” we recall its ability to help us as healers, to align with Life, Truth, and Peace.
Let us keep this in our minds, bodies, souls and spirits as we move forward collectively as one people, one diverse and inclusive family of healers, artists, teachers and leaders, with love for everyone in our hearts. Love All. Serve All.
Yours in Peace, Love, Light, Unity & Social Justice,
Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.
President, Jewnity/Diversity Arts/Unity Theater™