Havdalah Reflection


This weekend, I went with my family to the Havdalah service at our temple. Havdalah is a celebration of the end of the Sabbath, a quiet, simple, beautiful service that ends with extinguishing an interwoven candle in a cup of wine.

We were there with other Fourth Grade parents to watch the kids reenact Havdalah Hispana, a study of the Sephardic Jewish traditions that flourished in Spain. The kids spoke about the hundreds of years of convivencia, peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Jews and Christians in Spain from the eighth Century until 1492, the start of the Spanish Inquisition.

At the end of the service, standing holding hands in a circle surrounded by friends and strangers, practicing shared rituals, I felt safer, more at home, and a part of something bigger than myself.

And at that moment I couldn’t help but think how, at that same moment, in every single mosque in all of the United States, congregants were probably feeling less safe, less certain, less secure. That is why I am so angry, and why what is happening feels so counter to the ideals and the values for which this country stands.

And I ask myself:

Do the people supporting the Muslim Ban not understand the impact of what they are doing?

Or do they not care?

Or worse, is this exactly what they want?

The answer to these questions will help us understand the best ways to respond.


One thought on “Havdalah Reflection

  1. Good questions. No easy answers.

    Reflecting on the Trump voters in my own family, I think there are many people in this country who fought in wars in Muslim countries that they didn’t entirely understand. They also saw violent, fearful things in those wars that I will never be able to fully understand.

    I think people like me living in urban centers in this country have been insulated from the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but large portions of this country still have people in their families with PTSD. They built years of their experience around the narrative that they were fighting “bad guys” from a faraway place. When they’ve literally sacrificed so much to uphold that narrative, it’s hard to give it up.

    Maybe if serving in a war or having your dad or husband serve in a war was your only experience with the Muslim world–because you don’t have any close Muslim friends or you haven’t had the chance to travel to these countries on fancy fellowships like I have–your impressions would be more shaped by fear than by openness. That’s how I start to understand the answers to those questions…but obviously the real question is what to do next.

    How do we validate and better understand the experiences of many people in this country who made direct sacrifices in wars while also helping them see that Muslims are not the enemy?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.