Sukkot is a seven-day Jewish holiday celebrating the survival of ancient Jewish people as they fled slavery in Mitzrayim (modern day Egypt), and survived in the desert for forty years. It is one of my favorite holidays. Sukkot is a time of ephemeral, temporary wooden huts outside our homes calling forth a collective memory of the temporary shelter Jews built while refugees in Mitzrayim (Egypt). We celebrate Sukkot by meeting inside the “sukkah” hut, and shake our bodies while holding the lemon-looking etrog and long leaves of palm, myrtle, and willow.
Sukkot represents both the trauma of migration and a wisp of freedom. We get to rest with our loved ones, dance, chant and eat. But remember: Liberation is never complete. My father migrated from Mexico to the United States, and I grew up ashamed to be Mexican and angry to hear Spanish. I also remember hearing my Jewish grandfather, also the child of immigrants, speak to himself aloud in Yiddish but too embarrassed to teach me the mame loshen, or mother tongue.
While we gather under the new moon, on FaceTime, in the sukkah, or in the glow of the Shabbat candles, we need to keep organizing for social justice. I am working to heal my childhood wounds, battling mental health challenges and chronic pain, and juggling family care. These circumstances encourage me to organize for migrant justice, disability justice, and more support for families – including access to abortion and contraceptives
What social justice issues are you called to support? The ritual I share below, is one I first encountered fifteen years ago when I began organizing for social justice, and culminates with a commitment to take action for justice.
Community organizers often use one-on-one conversations as a ritual to tell our stories, to hold space for others who are hurting, and invite people to take action.
One model for doing a one-on-one conversation is the AHUY model and comprises four parts: Anger, Hope, Urgency, and You.. This model originates from farmworkers who founded the United Farm Workers in the 1960s.
In pairs, each person is invited to share:
1. Anger - What is making you angry?
Rose’s example: I grew up in Florida where we were taught that only abstinence prevents pregnancy, and I was not taught how to use condoms properly. When I was 22 years old, I became pregnant despite using condoms. I was not ready to become a parent.
2. Hope - What is making you hopeful?
Rose’s example: I was able to get an abortion, and later become a parent when the time was right. Every day, more and more people are sharing their abortion stories and fighting to keep abortion legal – and make it even more accessible for example by prescribing the abortion pill via online consultation with a doctor.
3. Urgency - Why is this issue urgent?
Rose’s example: Right now, reproductive rights are under attack nationally and at the state level.
4. You - How would you like to invite the other person to take action?
Both people should commit to taking action. Some ideas: Sign an online petition. Attend a protest. Donate. Talk to three people about this issue.