Don’t Postpone Your Interfaith Leadership-Adapt it
April 1, 2020
One of the most important skills I consistently used during my 15 years as a community organizer with people experiencing homelessness was the ability to adapt the tactics and strategies to the changing challenges I faced. As interfaith leaders, we are responding to a challenge that humanity has not faced in our lifetime. That said, I know that as leaders you already have the skills, tools, and spirit you need for this moment that can be adapted to be effective for this current moment.
I see it happening already. Interfaith leaders are adapting – reaching out to community virtually, leaving their phone number with neighbors, creating resources to empower fellow leaders to take action. The worst thing now would be to postpone all the good work you are doing for when things ‘get better.’ People are waiting for connection and purpose, and you are the right person to bring people across lines of difference together. Just like in the past, at this time we can instead listen to our positive internal voice – doing this work is life giving and people are waiting for you to take the lead and invite them to join.
Remember, you are not alone. Even as you begin to envision how the skills you have gained might be adapted to this moment, consider reaching out and suggest a collaboration with an individual or group who you admire and are interested in partnering. At the root of interfaith cooperation is the conviction that we are better together, and this may be just the moment to practice that in real time with new partners and friends.
Of course, I am adapting in my own work. I now am stationed at home with my new co-workers (my husband who is an elementary school teacher and my 8 and 11-year-old sons), worrying about making sure that my aging parents are staying safe and healthy, and attempting to support my broader community. During this time, I have found peace and strength from my religious community and the following two prayers. They are especially inspiring for me when I am able to sing them with my community or listen to my cantor singing them in her home through various online platforms. I hope that you too are finding strength from your worldview or sources of inspiration.
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May the One who blessed our ancestors —
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah —
bless and heal the one who is ill.
May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon them,
The One will send them, speedily,
a complete healing —
healing of the soul and healing of the body —
along with all the ill,
among all humankind,
and let us all say: Amen!
This is a musical adaptation of the Jewish prayer for protection and safety. This prayer is traditionally said before bed time and during evening services. My cantor, Leah Shoshanah, wrote it to meet our needs during this time— to bring calm, hope and remind in the power of friendship to aid us.