Announcing the Sunset of Nishmat Shoom


As the wheel of the year turns and this shmita year comes to an end, we are writing with much love and care to let you know that we have collectively decided to let go of this beloved ritual project. Over these past few years of the pandemic, we have found that our collective capacity has shifted. In the spirit of shmita (letting go) and of listening to the wisdom of our bodies and spirits, we have come to terms with the fact that we aren’t able to continue to offer ritual leadership and community space as Nishmat Shoom. 

This project started from a deep desire to create queer, diasporist, spiritual Jewish Days of Awe services for our local Western Massachusetts community. This vision led to a community spanning multiple states and countries that celebrated holidays together and found ways to connect both on- and offline. This work has been incredibly nourishing and inspiring to all of us. It has also come with the challenge of figuring out how to sustain this miracle of a project, over the long term. 

The sunset of this project means that we won’t be offering services, care packages, or sacred spaces for the High Holy Days, but we are thrilled to share some of our resources and offerings from years past. These can be found in the Days of Awe Ritual resources. This website will be transformed into an archive space, which will likely be taken down eventually, but feel free to save these resources for your own future use. Additionally, our Soundcloud playlists will stay available as long as Soundcloud allows them to remain. 

We are so deeply grateful for the work we’ve done together and for the praying, storytelling, learning, and singing we’ve been able to do with all of you. You have been an essential part of this work. Because of that, we would like to hear from you. Specifically, there are a few ways you can participate in this moment.

  1. We would love to hear about your memories and we’re hoping to share some of them on our website and/or social media. Please submit any memories or photos you would like to share with us, using our Nishmat Shoom Memories form. We also continue to welcome you to tag us on social media (@nishmatshoom). 
     
  2. Each year, Nishmat Shoom has gratefully accepted funds to pay for space, copies, and other supplies. We have also donated a percentage each year to mutual aid and reparations projects. (Nishmat Shoom organizers have never been paid.) We currently have a remaining balance of approximately $2000. We are not legally a non-profit, so it is up to us to decide how to disburse these funds. This Nishmat Shoom Sunset Survey gives you an opportunity to provide input into how the funds we have left over should be spent. 
     
  3. The Nishmat Shoom Sunset Survey also has a place where you can enter your email address, if you would like to be informed about future projects of individual members of the Nishmat Shoom organizing team. If so, your contact information will not be shared with anyone else. 

While we hold grief for this change and transition—and know that you may, too—it is our hope, prayer, and intention that the composting of this beautiful project, which has gifted us all with so much magic and possibility, enriches the soil and creates more possibilities for queer, radical, Jewish diasporist ritual life to unfold here in Western Massachusetts. 

With love,
Nishmat Shoom

Passover 5782

While we are still deep in our shmita year, we—like all of you—are thinking about Passover, just around the corner. Although we can’t be together again this year, feel free to use and adapt our Haggadah for 5781 for your own seders. Our Pesach SoundCloud supplement for the melodies has a few new additions to the playlist.

If you’re looking for more resources Jewish Voice for Peace has put together a number of offerings—including some developed with Nishmat Shoom founders. In Passover 5782: The Season of Liberation, you can find a guide for preparing for Passover, information about virtual seders to attend, haggadot and supplements, and an opportunity to join Counting of the Omer with Jewish Voice for Peace (starting the third night of Passover, April 17).

And, of course, we’d love to see how you’re celebrating Passover this year. Tag us on social media with @nishmatshoom and #nishmatshoom so our community can share and witness experiences of preparing for, observing, and reflecting on Passover 5782! You can also send us images to share at nishmatshoom@gmail.com. And be sure to check out posts in which Nishmat Shoom is tagged on social media, to see how other Shoomies are experiencing Passover!

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Volunteer to help with Sacred Spaces!

Nishmat Shoom Sacred Spaces for the Days of Awe are outdoor sites decorated by local artists and set up and maintained by the Nishmat Shoom community. This year, we are planning four of these spaces. Each one is based around one of four themes:

KADDISH- grief/mourning ( Greenfield)
T’SHUVAH-collective transformation/transformative justice (Easthampton)
TZEDAKAH- reparations/redistribution/collective care (Northampton)
T’FILAH- cultivating Divine-connection/ prayer (Amherst)

In order to make these Sacred Spaces happen, we need your help! Connect with the larger Nishmat community and form a deeper connection with the spaces by signing up to set-up or tend a site.

5782 Days of Awe Update

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.

Register to receive a Ritual Care Package!

If you haven’t pre-registered for a Nishmat Shoom ritual care package, now’s your chance to sign up! We are now opening registration for anyone who didn’t pre-register, while supplies last. Quantities are limited, though, and registration will close on August 8, so if you’d like to receive a care package, be sure to sign up soon! 

If you pre-registered, you do not need to fill out the open registration form. (Watch your email from a message about your order from nishmatshoom@gmail.com.)   

This year, we are pleased to offer care packages beyond the Northampton area, and will be able to offer packages via mail to locations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (shipping fees will be requested). 

Care packages are expected to be delivered or picked up before the Days of Awe 5782 (starting September 6, 2021). 

Remember, the deadline to register for care packages is August 8—so register soon!

(If you document your Days of Awe experience on social media, we would love it if you would tag us with @nishmatshoom, so we can see how you are using your ritual care package—and share in your celebrations!) 

Wishing you all a joyful and restorative summer!

Invite us to your Passover celebration!

We’d love to know how you are celebrating Passover this year. Tag us on social media with @nishmatshoom and #nishmatshoom so all of our community can share and witness experiences of preparing for, observing, and reflecting on Passover 5781!

You can also send us images to share at nishmatshoom@gmail.com. And be sure to check out posts in which Nishmat Shoom is tagged on social media, to see how other Shoomies are experiencing Passover!

Chag Pesach Sameach—and happy spring!

We thought it was time for an update and a check-in with our community. How has this year sat for you? What learnings and new edges have you experienced since we last gathered during the Days of Awe? 

We at Nishmat have been sitting with our own individual and collective learnings about our orientation to this incredible project. We have been using the pandemic-induced slowdown to take stock of ourselves and our growth over the last three years in which we have created this space with all of you. This spring we are doing some internal organizing work, assessing our capacity, and working to create structures that support the sustaining of this project. 

We are so proud of the work we’ve accomplished with you all and the worlds we’ve been able to explore because of the container of Nishmat Shoom. And we look forward to letting you know what we’re doing next.

Stay tuned for more information this coming summer about Days of Awe 5782! In the meantime, let’s turn to Passover, which is just around the corner!

Artistic rendering of a blue seder plate with a kiddush cup holding a bulb of garlic. Were you with us for the huge Nishmat Shoom seder in 5779?
Although we can’t be together this year, we thought we could be together in spirit by sharing our updated Haggadah for 5781. Feel free to use and adapt it for your own seders. On our Haggadah 2021 page, you’ll find a PDF of our 5781 Haggadah and a SoundCloud supplement for the melodies.

Additional Resources from JVP

We also thought you might be interested in the Jewish Voice for Peace Passover 5781 guide. It contains a lot of resources for our times—including several from Nishmat Shoom founders. Inside it, you’ll find:

We hope these resources help to enrich your observance of Passover this year.
Chag Pesach Sameach!

Yizkor materials

We’re excited to share a new offering, a pre-recorded Yizkor service to accompany you this Yom Kippur, in addition to our text Yizkor Ritual Guide.  

The 26 minute recording, an adaptation of Nishmat Shoom’s Yizkor service from 5780, created by Jo Kent Katz, Margot Seigle, and EE Miller with vocal accompaniment by Sol Weiss & Aly Haplert. The words to the prayers and songs can be found in Nishmat Shoom’s Yizkor Ritual Guide and also in the 5781 Machzor supplement.

During the service we offered stones for participants to hold and place, as a memorial to Stones, text, glass bowl and hamsa at one of the community-generated sacred spaces for 5781.those we are remembering, beside the stones of others in our community. This year, stones can be placed on the altars we are stewarding in Northampton, Greenfield and Amherst or where your heart desires. May all their memories be a blessing.

Listen to the recorded Yizkor Service and the rest of the Yizkor playlist and find our text guide on the Yizkor ritual guide page.

Registration is open!

In the midst of these challenging times, we are looking forward to sharing the Days of Awe with our community, in new and creative ways. We encourage you to check out our Menu of Opportunities for this year, consider setting up a community Sacred Space and/or volunteering to support our online eventsshare and witness with us on social media, and register to attend some (or all!) of our live virtual events (which will be captioned for accessibility). The first one is this Thursday, September 10, at 7 p.m.—Nishmat Levi’im: A Virtual Song Circle

In order to help ensure the safety of our online events, registration is required 24 hours before events—but registering does not mean you must attend. Once you have registered, you will receive a link for each event approximately 24 hours before it begins. View the list of our live events, below, and be sure to register if you’d like to attend them.

We look forward to immersing in the Days of Awe with you!

Nishmat Shoom Live Virtual Events 
– Sept 10, 7-8:30 p.m., Nishmat Levi’im: A Virtual Song Circle
– Sept 13, 12-2 p.m., Living with Death: A Virtual Space for the Days of Awe
– Sept 18, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Erev Rosh Hashanah Opening Ritual and Candle-lighting (NOTE: not a full service)
– Sept 20, 7-8:30 p.m., Shoomie Social
– Sept 20, 8:30 p.m., Rosh Hashanah Havdalah
– Sept 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Kol Nidre
– Sept 28, 6:30-8 p.m., Neilah and Havdalah

View the Menu of Opportunities for additional offerings. Additional details about upcoming events will be added, as they become available.

Register to celebrate the Days of Awe with Nishmat Shoom!


We are asking for a sliding scale donation $0-$18 to help us cover the cost of hiring professional captioners to make our events more accessible. We will also be donating 18% to community projects.

If you can afford to do so, please consider donating more to help cover costs for those who cannot afford to pay.

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