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The Women’s March: Lighting a spark, finding hope

Women's March in D.C./ Wikipedia photo by Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA

The Women’s March: Lighting a spark, finding hope

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Guest column by Rabbi Tamar Malino

As a woman, a Jew, a lesbian, a rabbi and a mother I am so honored to write about the Women’s March and stand with all of you to speak out for the rights of all human beings to live in dignity, respect and equality in this country.

I’d like to share a teaching with you from my tradition that reminds us of our individual and collective abilities to find hope for the future, and to be forces for change.

It is the practice of Tikkun Olam, which means Repair of World. Many centuries ago, Jewish mystics told an elaborate story about the process of creation. In the beginning of all time, God created Godself and the world through a divine energy flowing ever outward. This divine energy was contained by vessels sculpted out of wisdom, understanding, lovingkindness, judgement and beauty.

But the divine energy was too much for these vessels, and they shattered, scattering shards of the vessels and the divine light itself into the cosmos. God then created the world anew, but the sparks of the original creation were spread out and hidden amidst the dense and coarse world we live in.

Many of us experience life with an underlying feeling of brokenness, of scattered and hidden light. It is our job, by doing acts of wisdom, kindness and understanding, to reveal and raise up the sparks, reconstructing the divine vessels and repairing the world.

This is both an individual and a collective process: It is the responsibility of each person to raise up the sparks hidden in our own lives. Only we can raise up the sparks that are in our paths. It is our unique mission as individuals—they belong us and to no one else. And of course, if we are each raising our divine sparks, the greater the light we all experience, and the more the world is repaired, returned to a state of wholeness and of peace.

And right now we are raising thousands of sparks: The sparks that celebrate the wisdom of freedom and democracy. The sparks that reveal the understanding that we are all equal human beings, deserving of dignity and respect. The sparks that shine with lovingkindness. The support and care we give to one another through family and community. The sparks that strengthen our judgement, our ability to fight against the injustices we see and experience. The sparks that glow with the beauty of each human face. Thousands and thousands of sparks, here and all over this country.

As the organizers of the weekend’s march, both here and in “the other Washington” have said, the rhetoric of this election has been divisive and damaging to us all. Through the Women’s March we celebrate our diversity, and send forth our light together.

I’d like to share some poetic words that a friend and colleague, Rabbi Michael Latz, wrote a few weeks ago in an echo of the famous quote by Pastor Martin Niemoller concerning World War II. I imagine many of you know the words of Pastor Niemoller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

It continues on, and he concludes with:

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Rabbi Latz writes for today:

First they came for the African Americans and I spoke up because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.
And then they came for the women and I spoke up because women hold up half the sky.
And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up because I remember the ideals of our democracy.
And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up because they are my cousins and we are one human family.
And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.
They keep coming.
We keep rising up.

Because we Jews know the cost of silence. We remember where we came from. And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you are coming for us-and THAT just won’t stand. Today, we link arms to raise thousands of sparks, and after today, facing the future, no matter what it may hold, let us continue raising up the sparks of wisdom, understanding, kindness, judgement and beauty, each one of us, one action at a time, one spark at a time, until we are whole instead of broken, until light shines through the darkness, and together we repair the world.

Tamar Malino

About Tamar Malino

Rabbi Tamar Malino is the rabbi of two Jewish congregations in Spokane: Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Emanu-el. She was ordained in 2001 by Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion. Not only does she have experience as a congregational rabbi, she also has been a popular community lecturer and served as the executive director of Jewish Family Services, and Jewish Life at a community center in the Bay Area. She moved with her two sets of twins to Spokane in 2010 and became the first female congregational rabbi in Spokane. Rabbi Malino has created programs exploring Jewish spirituality, prayer, Jewish culture, history, and Israel. Her central passion is in her role as a teacher in deepening spirituality and strengthening compassion in her community.

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