Friday Dispatch: The Shamati Sessions
Space to write and witness each other
Like many of us, I am spent today.
These past few days have been hard, to say the least – and that is speaking from the ease, safety, and comfort of my home in Western Massachusetts.
Rather than attempting to write something new, I’m devoting today’s Dispatch to telling you about an upcoming offering, which I am calling The Shamati Sessions.
Please read on for details and feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit from sharing this kind of space. All of this information is also on the Jewish Creative Practice website.
I hope you are taking good care of yourselves.
Shabbat Shalom and love,
On October 7, 2023, Israeli Jews experienced atrocities that have left Jews worldwide reeling with pain, anguish, solidarity, confusion, anger, fear, and grief. Many of us feel overwhelmed and perhaps alone in these emotions and responses. Jews comprise 0.2% of the world’s population, roughly half in Israel and half in the diaspora.
I learned the Hebrew word “Shamati” after the Tree of Life shooting in Squirrel Hill almost exactly five years ago. In a blog post about that incident of terror, I wrote:
I took a nap. I drifted in a state of half-sleep, thinking: They want us to be scared. They want us to hide who we are. They want us to feel unsafe in our bodies, in our communities, in prayer and in protest, in our comings and goings.
“Shamati” means “I have heard.”
After the shooting, our rabbi held space in our synagogue for anyone who wanted to simply be together, and to have a place to speak. He offered very clear guidelines for our time together: Anyone who wanted to speak could speak. After each speaker, the rest of us would offer, “Shamati.”
There was no cross-talk, discussion, debate, or analysis. Instead, we listened. We heard. We witnessed each other.
The Shamati Sessions are an opportunity to gather, write, and hear each other in Jewish solidarity.
WHAT IT IS
Space to be together: To see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices, to remember we are not alone in this.
Space that acknowledges there are many ways to grieve, and they are all valid.
Time to write: Each session will open with a short poem or reading, followed by a period of timed freewriting and (optional) sharing. Each reader will be met with a chorus of “Shamati” from their fellow participants.
WHAT IT IS NOT
A political forum.
A discussion group.
A place for debate, analysis, or judgment.
WHO IT IS FOR
Anyone who identifies in any way as Jewish – there is no external or objective definition here. No one is more or less Jewish than anyone else, and no one’s way of being Jewish is the “right” way.
Folks who wish to be in a space of solidarity with the Jewish community.
Those who value writing in community as a form of creating connecting, solidarity, and healing.
DATES & TIMES
The Shamati Sessions will take place on Zoom for four consecutive Mondays, 6:00-8:00pm* EST. You can attend some or all of the sessions.
* Each session’s length may vary slightly depending on number of participants.
This is a Pay From the Heart offering, no questions asked.
Whether you pay $10 per session of $1,000 per session, you are welcome.
Email me at jenarschwartz (at) gmail (dot) com, or leave a comment here.