The Power of Sharing Our Celebrations


This time of year, when the holidays of so many of our traditions begin to overlap, I am filled with joyful memories of the power that lies in sharing about our beloved celebrations. Imagine with me for a moment…

  1. Imagine youth who have their Bar or Bat Mitzvah (a coming-of-age celebration in Judaism) with a whole contingent of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth present to support and often take part in the service.
  2. When attending a church service, imagine youth who intentionally position themselves between their friends from different traditions and then help them follow along, know when to sit or stand, and quietly point out parts of the service or answer questions.
  3. Imagine receiving a picture of a Sukkah, a temporary shelter built in the backyard of a Jewish family to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot – a Sukkah that you realize was intentionally made bigger this year so that the youth can invite all of their friends to celebrate with them and learn about this yearly celebration.
  4. Imagine a group of youth, attending Jummah (Friday) prayer at a neighborhood mosque, who quietly show their friends where to store their shoes or how to wrap their hijab (head covering) before leading them in to observe the Muslim prayers.

The beauty of these stories is that they are not imagination, they are all real experiences that young people have shared together. Each of these memories is vividly present in my mind. I can see the pride in the faces of the youth sharing their tradition and celebration. I can see the wonder and eagerness in the faces of the friends who are learning and experiencing something for the first time.

The intricacies of bringing young people together are more than worth it when these are the end results. Sharing our traditions, sharing our celebrations, gives people a window into our way of making meaning out of our lives. We all know what it is like to celebrate a birthday, but only some of us know what it is like to build a sukkah in our backyard, until we are invited in.

Inviting someone in takes vulnerability and courage. Being willing to be invited in takes openness to learning and a willingness to be a little bit uncomfortable.

As we continue to do the work required to prepare for our October 2024 youth programs launch, it is stories like these that I think about every day. I move through each day filled with gratitude that we are preparing to create a safe space for young people to witness the beauty and meaning that lies in our traditions and celebrations.

As we slowly open ourselves to the vulnerability of invitation, I wonder what meaning and power we will find next

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