A message before Shabbat from our CEO

A message before Shabbat from our CEO

October 13, 2023

This past week has been devastating. The pain. The heartbreak. The tremendous loss of life. The horror and violence that continues to unfold.

It has been challenging for me to simply feel human, and it has been challenging to be the leader of Bend the Arc, navigating this time of agony that is very much inside each of us but outside of our organizational work.

We are an organization fighting for a United States free from white supremacy, antisemitism, and racism, where every person is free to thrive. But of course, our hearts know no borders, and many in our community are afraid and grieving loved ones in Israel and Palestine. I know that even — and especially — in the hardest and scariest moments, holding fast to each other and to the possibility of freedom and liberation is how we follow our ancestors on the path to the future we’re building and so desperately need.

And in this week, in each day, and in watching the ongoing pain and devastation, it has felt nearly impossible to hold fast.

That’s why it feels important to end the week reaching out to all of you — the people who make up our movement — who share these deep commitments to justice and liberation and who might be feeling the frayed edges of relationships across difference this week.

As I approach Shabbat, I am grateful that our ancestors have given us wisdom, strength, and spiritual tools to navigate moments like this. They have planted body and heart memories of their persistence, their courage, and their ability to survive and thrive. They have given us powerful traditions that ground us in their resilience and help us cultivate our own.

Shabbat is a weekly invitation for a holy pause to renew ourselves and move beyond the limits of our daily lives and our fears. Each Friday, after I close out my work week, my family lights Shabbat candles. We bless our children and talk about the roses and thorns (highs and lows) of our week. This ritual will feel painful for me this evening, as I contemplate the many thorns of this week. I will think quietly about all of the parents in pain. I will try to find the right words to share with my own children, who I want to feel the safety and familiarity of Shabbat. And I'll name that they are my roses, along with the moments of hope and connection I saw and felt this week.

When the new week starts, there will be much to pay attention to that falls squarely within Bend the Arc’s domestic mission: increased acts of antisemitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry here at home; attacks on progressive leaders that are meant to divide us when it’s important that we stand together in our shared commitment to justice and humanity; and the need to fight many battles at once, as the authoritarian movement here continues to build power by exploiting division, fear, and grief. I know that all of our futures, our safety, and our liberation are intertwined and that we will continue to care for each other as we recommit to these fights to come.

But today, I hope we all can accept Shabbat’s invitation. As our friend Yoshi Silverstein at Mitsui Collective offered this week, I hope we will pause to “give ourselves space to honor what we’re carrying, and find a sense of centeredness from which to connect to our compassion, our empathy, our resilience, and our ability to respond from a place of tenderness.” I hope we can find space in our hearts to let in both the pain and the possibility of connection — and that we keep centering our humanity.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jamie Beran
CEO, Bend the Arc