Returning to Kehillat
A kind letter from Kehillat Beijing member, supporter, and friend Gabrielle Harris:
Dear Kehillat Beijing, beloved members past and present,
I wanted to tell you about my Shabbat last night.
To some, it may have just looked like the usual configuration of people sitting in a semicircle around lights from candles, but for me last night, after months of wandering and worrying about an unwell person close to me, it was a beacon calling in this person who felt little bit broken-down. The service leader also seemed a little fragile at the beginning, but she leaned in from her side of the lights and gradually took strength from the gathering, too. In fact after she had drawn on the energy of the community, she broke out a troubling secret she had been holding close, and offered it up in the heart of the circle.
Courage and trust and chesed (active kindness): the cornerstones of our community.
At first when I tried to sing the familiar melodies, the feeling was strange, and a ragged sound came out as my lungs and I realized I had not sung, in fact I had not breathed deeply recently, except to calm anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me, and the occasional racing heart. Only once we reached the rousing chorus of Lecha Dodi did the magic of breathing break through and release my voice. It was a watershed moment of healing.
Old friends were there, several of them like me 20 years on from the beginning of this community; meanwhile, new young leaders have emerged, and new friends come in from unlikely places, following their hearts and curiosity about this practice and faith, just as I did starting 25 years ago. Children arise and take up their commitments in turn, not flinching from the work and shouldered by the community. The faces change, people change their frequency of participation, but the virtual DNA of this community stays up in the eaves of our tent temple to maintain this vibrant warmth and welcoming nature.
So what I wanted to say, Kehillat Beijing, is thank you for providing me a home of the heart, and to please never stop, for we must keep the flame burning in this our Beijing tabernacle, always, tamid. Amen.