Blessed (and welcome) is the new year,
with its fragile hope, it invites us
(with compassion and bravery)
into the whole world around us.
Blessed is the whole world around us,
(plagued by breath,
our desire to be “better than” )
the mountains who hold us,
the breeze (blessed are you)
who calls us by our Hebrew names.
Blessed are our Hebrew names,
given for ancestors,
who bore us into this tradition,
the size of their sacrifice.
Blessed is the wind in our chests,
(despite last year,
because of it).
Blessed is being alive.
Blessed is knowing
(the other, the gray)
the Hebrew name of this moment.
Blessed are we,
to breathe that familiar,
the whole world
(Blessed are you)
holds for us.
I wrote this poem as I became interested in how blessings are structured. This poem, modeled on the traditional long blessing (matbe'a arokh, or "long formula") tries to work through a ladder of gratitude, moving from what's in front of you, to what surrounds you, to tradition, and ends in awe and appreciation of the divine. I also tried to invoke other traditions in Jewish blessings like making meaning from the everyday, the phrase "Blessed are you," and using a blessing to cultivate awareness.
Throughout this poem you'll also see many references to breath and wind. One of my favorite concepts in Judaism is the word "ruach" which means wind, breath, and spirit (of God). From extreme weather to a pandemic that attacks the lungs to a racial justice awakening (I can't breathe) - I thought this was an interesting concept to explore this year.
Thanks for reading!
- Danielle Buynak Horner, Development Director
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.