Dear Achvat Community,
While I have had the great pleasure of getting to know many of you over the years, I wanted to take the opportunity to formally introduce myself as I embark on this new journey as the newest member of the tzevet (team).
I am stepping into my role as the Educational Facilitator & Program Coordinator as an artist-activist and community educator. I grew up in the mountains and deserts of the southwest United States. There, I gained an appreciation for vast arid landscapes as well as my primary education in the meaning and history of indigenous lands. Since leaving New Mexico, I’ve been on a long journey to understand relationships to land, community, and peoplehood, which has led me to Achvat Amim and to you.
As I write this introduction to you, I am aware that it was almost exactly a year ago that the world entered into a period of intense turbulence as a result of COVID-19. I myself was new to Jerusalem and attempting to establish community, when borders began to close and the privilege and ease of global travel which I had long enjoyed rapidly came to a screeching halt.
It was amidst this chaos that I arrived at a crossroads: stay in Jerusalem, a place that I had arrived in just two months prior or return to the comfort and relative certainty of the United States. For reasons I couldn’t fully understand at the time, the answer was clear: stay. Stay and be here.
Only a year later, can I better understand my reasons for doing so. And I believe that they had directly to do with a deep sense that I had much to learn from this place about myself, about justice, and about the process of committing and preparing that self for the work of justice.
The Jewish tradition, like many traditions, sits in the tension between particularism and universalism. Contained within Judaism is both the idea that all humans are B’tselem Elohim, or in the image or God, and simultaneously a narrative of chosen-ness that singles out the Jewish people. The modern state of Israel has come to embody the second of these principles. Plagued by xenophobia and racism and structured by supremacy, the state has fallen into the narrow place. A space dominated by tribalism and unable to touch the deep connective tissue of humanity.
I have long been wrestling with this reality—and attempting to find my place in the project of repairing it. But what became apparent to me as I stared into the vast uncertainty brought on by a worldwide pandemic is the necessity of leaning into uncertainty and of stepping into the narrow place in order to emerge from it.
Achvat Amim is a community that does not shy away from uncertainty. Committed to a continual process of asking questions and sitting with ambiguous and unclear answers, Achvat Amim nurtures the essential truth of paradox—that the world contains a multiplicity of truths. Contained in the meaning of the name “Achvat Amim” lies both the idea of “solidarity"—that which binds us together and “nations”—that which makes us distinct.
I have long been searching for communities that are able to hold these two concepts together in rigorous and compassionate learning, and I am humbled and elated to have found one in which I can work towards communal, relational, and personal transformative justice.
I look forward to being partners in this work and hope that if any of you are inclined, you’ll reach out for a virtual (and soon if possible real!) coffee.
With much gratitude and excitement,
Educational Facilitator & Program Coordinator
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