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15 Elul 5783

Rabbi Aviva Kipen

Progressive Judaism Victoria

Creating Safe Spaces of Belonging: feeling that we fit well through our Elul reflections

On August 22nd, our North American WUPJ members were invited to participate in an online workshop, led by Dr Traci Baxley. Professor Baxley invited participants to send her issues they wanted to explore, in anticipation of helping mitigate “potential negative impacts” of parenting. The goal was to enable parents “to create affirming spaces” that enlarge families’ understandings of their children’s future “agency, advocacy, and action.”

The Union for Reform Judaism invited its members to engage with Jewish Parenting, as a means to enlarge “the mental health and self-esteem” of our current generation of children. Reading the publicity, I thought of the demands that God’s people place on the relationships within our extended Jewish family in 2023. It’s not new! From earliest Torah times to 5783, we re-encounter the demands of living well,  the difficulty of cultivating good patterns from which children will have safe adulthoods.

Perhaps the course was timed to remind us all, especially during Elul, that our creation and preservation of safe Jewish space depends on our greater understanding of security. For some, God is enough. Our grasp on reassurance tethers to deeply rooted values that are gifted in the language of each era to the next generation. I wondered which issues God would have flagged to Dr Baxley in anticipation of the session, given that we may understand ourselves as “the children” of this extended family? If our collective goal is “agency, advocacy, and action” as a people, how does each of us understand the opportunity that Elul reflection provides as a chance to recharge, reenergise and regather our strength for the year ahead?

See more Elul Reflections