According to the Torah, every seven years the land, and the people who work it, are given a rest – the Shmitah year. In the Shmita year, the land lies fallow, regenerates and produces only what comes naturally, as farmers are not supposed to plant or harvest crops. Additionally, people who owe debts are to be forgiven, and land that usually is owned by one person becomes the property of all, especially for the poor and the needy. For those who are in need, this is a radical step toward dignity and self-reliance, as they can glean what they need from the field and not wait for the leftovers of others. This dramatic resetting of society’s fundamental economic roles and norms invites everyone to step back from their day-to-day habits to examine the foundations of their lives.
Shmita teaches us that instead of focusing on being productive, we can focus on being connected. Instead of relying on our habits, we can do things differently and see that the world doesn’t collapse when we change things up; indeed, we learn, grow, adapt and can reimagine ourselves and society when we give ourselves permission to get creative.
So this summer, we’re taking inspiration from our tradition and will rest, renew, and plan for the year ahead. For the month of July, we will pause our regular Shabbat services in favor of more low-key opportunities for gathering and connecting. The reason for this is that our Shabbat and holiday team, as well as our rabbis, have a schedule all year long that is oriented around the production of Shabbat, which is quite physically demanding! For any given Shabbat service outside our office, there are no fewer than 11 large supply bins, 3 boxes with sound equipment, 11 mics, cables and mic stands, 7 music stands, 2 boxes of livestream equipment, and a team of 3 part-time Shabbat coordinators, a producer, a professional sound engineer and a livestream camera operator, not to mention the Mishkan volunteers who welcome you in the door – who all make our Friday Shabbat experience possible in person and online. We LOVE doing it, and every year the team needs a few weeks to rest minds and bodies. This allows those amazing folks to rest in preparation for the marathon months that lead into and out of the High Holiday season.
Additionally, Rabbi Lizzi will spend two weeks at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and Rabbi Steven will be doing some traveling too. So, as we take things down a few notches for July, we invite you to think about how you construct your Jewish life (specifically around Shabbat practice), and create more connections too. We hope that what you discover during July shmitah will sustain and nurture your spiritual life for the rest of the year, even as we resume our normal schedule in August.
We want to make sure you’ve got a solid foundation for your July Shabbat practice, so here are some ideas:
- Join us for low-key Shabbat morning Torah study in the park, followed by kiddush and lunch (BYOB, by which we mean, blanket).
- Discover one of Mishkan’s Small Groups, meeting during the month of July, and make new friends in the community. Keep up to date in our newsletter with weekly happenings.
- Host or attend a Shabbat meal! If you’re a young adult check out OneTable and either create, or join, a Shabbat dinner or lunch this month. Here is a sheet with basic blessings to create rituals around food and drink at your table.
- Check out the Sabbath Manifesto, a list of 10 suggestions for how to bring more Shabbat spirit into your life and nurture re-connection
Finally, check out our July calendar for more information on our Saturday mornings in the park and our small group gatherings. We will continue adding more programs over the next few weeks so stay tuned!
Beginning in August, our usual Shabbat and program schedule resumes and we begin the countdown to High Holidays.
Sending you blessings, rest, rejuvenation and renewal,