These past few weeks, we have borne witness to enormously inspiring acts of collective resistance as Palestinians in Gaza engage in the Great March of Return, and their allies around the world join them in solidarity. As is all too often the case, collective resistance has also meant collective grieving. Israeli forces have killed more than 45 people and injured over 6,100* unarmed protestors demanding their right to return to their homeland.
In dominant cultures, grief is often expected to be an individual process and can be experienced as deeply isolating. Jewish traditions offer tools and templates to grieve in collective ways- ways that have the potential to connect us more deeply to a broader community in the times when we are most broken and vulnerable. By grieving deeply, completely and collectively, our web of community becomes woven more tightly and our capacity to love and protect each other, and act powerfully for justice is fortified.
Yizkor is a memorial service that is held 4 times a year as an opportunity to grieve in community. The next Yizkor observance is on May 21st, during the harvest holiday of Shavuot following the long journey through the Omer which began at the end of Passover. A candle can be an incredible way to hold space for grieving. If it feels supportive, gather some friends to grieve intentionally together, go to synagogue when a Yizkor service is being held, or light a candle, any candle, to ask for help with holding a piece of your grieving process.
In the coming week, as the Great March of Return culminates with Nakba Day, coinciding with the US Embassy's move to Jerusalem - we will undoubtedly see more beautiful resistance and be required to continue grieving while we are simultaneously called to action. Scroll down to learn more about the Great March of Return, Nakba Day, and ways that we can resist in solidarity with Palestinians worldwide.
We are each a part of a collective; our resistance and our grief necessary for being fully connected to our humanity.
Over 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israel during the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza. A majority of those killed were refugees, displaced from their homes during the 1948 Nakba - the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from territory which became Israel. This visual, created by Visualizing Palestine highlights their villages of origin.
The Great March of Return will culminate on Nakba Day, May 15th, marking 70 years of the ongoing Nakba.