Tim Jackins, at the Central European Workshop, in the Basque Country, March 2014

Tonight we are going to celebrate Shabbat.* It is a Jewish tradition that happens every week. It starts at sundown on Friday. There are many wonderful things about it, and about being Jewish.

We often celebrate Shabbat at RC workshops—not because Jewish culture is wonderful (which it is) but to remind ourselves that anti-Jewish oppression exists. It has been around for many centuries and has been used by oppressive forces over and over again to confuse everyone. We have all lived in societies that have used it in this way. Most of us Gentiles have little real information about being Jewish. We carry misinformation about Jews, and we carry distresses that leave us with anti-Jewish patterns.

We all have oppressor patterns—patterns connected with racism, sexism, nationalism, and the oppression of young people and many other groups. Mostly we’d rather not think about them. It’s hard to work on patterns in which we play the oppressor role. It’s easier to talk about how we’ve been hurt—our counselor will likely be sympathetic. If we talk about having tendencies to oppress other people, which we all have, our counselors might get restimulated and not be so sympathetic. This makes it hard to face these distresses.

Anti-Jewish oppression blames Jews for the problems of society. Anti-Jewish patterns may be quiet—until there is a crisis; then the targeting happens again. Societies need someone to blame to cover up the fact that they don’t work well, and Jews have been targeted in this way for a long, long time.

We carry these patterns, too. Not because we chose them but because we have lived in countries where they are present. We forget. We forget that anti-Jewish oppression happens, and we forget to discharge our anti-Jewish patterns. When there isn’t an obvious problem, we forget. Jews don’t forget. However, they may go quiet, hoping to stay quiet enough that they will not be targeted again. That doesn’t work—it is just another pattern, even though an understandable one.

Having Shabbat at workshops helps us remember. It gives us more information about what it means to be a Jew. We get to see one of the wonderful, rich Jewish ceremonies, and understand something about how we have benefited from that tradition.

* Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. It begins on Friday at sundown and continues through sundown on Saturday.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00