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Be Inspired.

Be inspired! The Congregation Sherith Israel community is invited to join the Social Action Committee (SAC) in making social justice a central part of the High Holidays. Although we can’t all gather in one place at this moment in time, we can still do something inspiring together—we can unite in a self-directed exercise in contemplation of who and where we are and aspire to be, and reflect upon and recommit to social justice and social action.

Sometime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, let us each make a pilgrimage to a place of significance, and create the space and time for personal reflection on the struggle for social justice. Singly, or in small, socially distanced groups, we will dedicate this window of time to remember and reconnect with the past, ground ourselves in the present, and gather strength and inspiration for future action.

Choosing a place: What matters most is to pick a place where you can feel and see where you are, and gain literal and metaphorical perspective, and imagine your roots extending down into the ground... 

 

  • Any place with a good view (e.g., Lafayette or Buena Vista parks, Billy Goat Hill, etc.)... 
  • Places of past protest or progress... 
  • The Presidio, especially a part that’s meaningful to you (WWII memorial, cemetery, Baker Beach...) 
  • The sea, anywhere... 
  • The park where you or your children used to play... 
Any place that holds personal meaning will work. Or any place conducive to thinking, and connected to nature and place.

 

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens. 
  • AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.
  • City Hall / Civic Center Plaza, where we go to have our voices heard and where progress is made manifest. 
  • Lotta’s Fountain, symbol of resilience and civic fellowship and care. 
  • A stroll in the Castro; contemplation and rest near the rainbow flag. 
  • The Land’s End labyrinth, or alternatively the outdoor labyrinth at Grace Cathedral (indoor one/cathedral is closed).  This shows where the latter is in relation to the church, and offers guidance on how to use a labyrinth as a tool for contemplation. 
  • The pond at the Palace of Fine Arts, a portal to the city’s past. 
  • Lake Merced, to ponder whilst perambulating. 
  • Dolores Park, site of celebrations, rich with views and vitality. 
  • Misión San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) gardens/graveyard are open. Commune with flowers and forerunners. 
  • Coit Tower/Pioneer Park. Visit those amazing WPA murals—reflect on progress then and now. 

Golden Gate Park offers lots of great options. Here are a few more: 
 
  • Do the authors/historical figures walk (Music Concourse); stop and chew the fat a while with your favorites.... Tell Cervantes which windmills you plan to tilt at next... Let Shakespeare remind you, “To thine own self be true.” 
  • Wander the Botanic Gardens or the Arboretum, and draw inspiration from knowledge and nurture of nature. 
  • Walk around Spreckels Lake, and think about what philanthropy and service can do, and have done, for our city. 
  • Admire the bison—the true American beast—animals that have existed on this continent for millennia. 


The places on this list are open to the public. For other locales, don’t forget to check parking/closures before you go!

As we re-energize and refocus ourselves for the year ahead, any notes or reactions or reflections that emerge from this exercise would be welcome, and may be submitted to the SAC, to be collected for sharing at a later date.

Should we not have hospitable outdoor air quality during the High Holidays, we will not venture out into the smoke. Instead, we will choose an alternate activity to do with equal intentionality. We’ll set aside time for a voyage of the imagination to—or a virtual tour of—a place that inspires... perhaps watch video of a significant historic event or stirring oratory... or take in or create a meaningful work of art that lends itself to the task of reflection and rededication to social action and justice. (If all else fails, we can commit to completing the exercise within the month, rather than the week.) 

Sat, July 24 2021 15 Av 5781