A Moment of Collective Grieving

May it be true that peace will yet come.

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us earlier today to share a moment of collective grieving with Rabbi Emily Cohen and the Hey Alma community.

More than 300 members of our community gathered over Zoom to ground, hold space, pray and grieve together for Jews, Muslims and everyone affected by the violence and bloodshed.

Rabbi Emily Cohen is a rabbi, artist and the leader of West End Synagogue in Manhattan. She’s also a regular contributor to Hey Alma, and the rabbi we turn to when we need guidance. She began today’s community event with a niggun (a song), and then asked the community to take a deep breath together, ground ourselves and share one word in the Zoom chat to express how we were feeling in that exact moment.

Immediately, hundreds of responses came flying into the chat that it was hard to keep up. But the most common words we saw come through were: Heartbroken. Adrift. Powerless. Scared. Angry. Exhausted.

Rabbi Emily then shared a poem written by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, and a prayer that she read in English, Hebrew and Arabic. She asked all the participants to share names of people we are mourning in the Zoom chat, then led us in the Mourner’s Kaddish. Finally, she concluded with a version of Oseh Shalom that she created. She explained: “I’m going to bring in one more peice of music for us, that I wrote two days ago. This is a setting of Oseh Shalom, but I’ve rendered it in the feminine because sometimes, for me, praying in feminine Hebrew brings the prayers alive. And I’ve also added the line V’al b’not Yishmael — for the children of Ishmael. For all of those who need peace more than ever.”

At the very end, Rabbi Emily shared some personal words: “May we find comfort in one another. May we find peace in community. And may our grief be the power that we need to together, with love, make a better world. Take care.”

Hey Alma’s editor, Molly Tolsky, then closed out the gathering, saying, “Thank you all so much for being here. Shabbat shalom.” Though to be honest we did not want the collective space of grief, prayer and love to end.

If you missed the event, we hope you will find some comfort in the recording.

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