The month of Elul has begun and so we begin our work of teshuva, or return. We look back on this past year and take stock as we return to ourselves, to Source, and Spirit.
A year ago, we pushed through the challenges of isolation and grief to offer digital experiences for Days of Awe 5781, hoping that this year would find us returning to hosting services in person. However, after a time of significant change, loss, and distance, our collective has chosen not to lead services this year. Therefore, we are officially announcing that Nishmat Shoom will not be holding any services (in person or online) for the Days of Awe this year.
In grappling with this decision, we are taking a page from our ancient tradition in the practice of shmita, or release. 5782 is a shmita year, the last in a seven year cycle, which calls for the land to be laid fallow, debts to be forgiven, and relationships to be mended. As you may know, Nishmat Shoom organizers are a small group of volunteers who came together to create a Days of Awe experience that is radical, queer, and non-Zionist. We love working together and delving into connection with Spirit by singing and praying together—both with each other and with our community. Due to the pandemic, we have been unable to do that and feel that the shmita year is offering us a moment to step back and listen, to be in the present place and time, without pushing ourselves to produce more.
To sanctify this year of rest and of returning the land, we will be offering Sacred Spaces around the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts to pray, reflect, and reconnect, starting on September 1. Also, on our website, you will find ritual guides and playlists to guide you through a Days of Awe practice on your own.
Dear ones, beloved community, we miss you all, and we care for you deeply. We encourage you to join us in taking this shmita year as an opportunity to allow for regeneration, fertility and space to grow.