By Tamara Micner, Shul Maven: Community Coordinator
This Friday's Kabbalat Shabbat service celebrated my two-year work anniversary - or 'workiversary' - as Community Coordinator of Makor Hayim.
It was special for me to be able to invite my family, friends and partner to 'meet' the community I work with - and vice versa - and to be able to speak about what I do in my life in addition to this work.
Rabbi Daniel led a Q&A with me where I got to speak about the power of Jewish community and the importance of our liberation as Jews - something I love to do!
First I'll say a bit about my heritage. I'm a white Ashkenazi Jew who was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and I've lived in England for the past 10 years. My mother's family descend from pogrom survivors who emigrated from Romania, Ukraine and Russia to Argentina and Chile in the early-20th century. I still have family in Argentina and Chile, and I'm bilingual in English and Spanish. My father's family descend from Holocaust survivors from southeast Poland, who emigrated to Canada after the Second World War. My Baba, his mother, is my family's last living native Yiddish speaker. (I am also learning Yiddish.) I have relatives in Switzerland, Israel-Palestine, the Netherlands, U.S. - we live on four continents!
For me, part of my work with Makor Hayim is about supporting Jewish liberation. What do I mean by that? Here's an example. I've found that one of the results of my people's displacement, near-loss of language, and genocide is that I rarely feel relaxed or safe; I have trouble trusting others (both Jews and non-Jews); I can be quite critical of myself; I struggle to feel I belong; I feel there's something wrong with me; I don't feel very likeable; I question if I matter, if Jews and Judaism matter.
In other words, I have internalised antisemitism. Antisemitism (or anti-Jewish oppression) can make Jews feel afraid, unlikeable, unsafe, mistrusting, excluded, weird, unimportant, and even that we shouldn't exist.
So for me, liberating myself from the effects of antisemitism involves working on these feelings (which I do as part of a global co-counselling movement) and countering them in my life. One of the ways I do this is by being involved in Jewish communities - both Makor Hayim and, in a personal capacity, Kehillah North London (where I'm a board member). Coming together with other Jews to celebrate Judaism and Jewishness affirms for me that we matter and that our culture, religion, identity matter. It makes me feel more connected, and it reminds me that other people care about our people's existence and liberation.
Another way I do this is by being an 'out' Jewish theatre artist. I make and perform shows which engage with my Jewishness, including a solo show called Holocaust Brunch which explores what it's like being 'Third Generation' and how we can heal from the Holocaust.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share more of myself and my life with the community last Friday, and I look forward to doing more of this work together.