Irit is one of the people I met on that Yom Kippur 35 years ago. She is a generous and loving friend—it has never surprised me that her professional path was, and still is, one of service. Her words are the antidote I need to tonight’s “debate” debacle.
A deep recommitment
by Irit Umani, Austin, Texas
It is the day after Yom Kippur 2020, and as I do each year, I used this sacred day to reflect and to commit.
When I woke up yesterday morning, three words came to my mind. Courage, equanimity, compassion.
The world is on fire. In California, and the entire West Coast, literally, and everywhere spiritually. Courageous fire fighters are battling the flames, and I ask myself whether I am as courageous to battle the spiritual fires that are consuming who we are as peoples. I hold three citizenships: the U.S.A., Israel, and the World. The first two peoples with whom I belong live with the consequences of having a leader who is a criminal that cares only about himself. The third, the World, is lost in disbelief, in fear, in suffering. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of the powers of division, of a carelessness that endangers our very existence. Yet, the situation calls for fearlessness, truth, action, commitment.
So, I ask myself, have I, over my lifetime, developed enough courage and the required compassion to meet these challenges? Do I have the quality of equanimity and sufficient faith to fuel my courage and compassion? Do I pursue justice—am I acting justly, loving mercy and remaining humble in God?
On Rosh Hashana, I listened to Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR in Los Angeles, who posed the question, “Who am I and who does the world need me to be?” At the conclusion of these Holy Days, I find it impossible to take stock only of my personal life, my personal relationships. This year, my “I” is a “we.”
This year, I recommit myself to be the we that I want to see in the world. To tap into my depth of faith and the quality of equanimity that I have cultivated to date, so that I can serve with courage and in compassion. In a humble bow to the divine in us, I pray that my actions will be informed by justice and be led by loving mercy.
I am an imperfect traveler on a journey of awakening to my divine nature through the path of service, aka Karma yoga, Seva, mitzvot, ezra. My hope is that one day at “The Gates,” I’ll be able to answer affirmatively when I am asked, “Did you love well?” My fervent prayer is that I will get better at loving well, especially when it is difficult to do so.
The world needs me to speak truth, to pursue justice all the days of my life, to love my fellow beings as I yearn to be loved. To these, I made my recommitment this Yom Kippur.