Written by Lisa Friedman, Matan’s Manager of Social Media and Alumni Networks
In Judaism, intention (kavanah) is most often discussed in relationship to prayer. From the Hebrew root meaning to direct, intend, or focus, kavanah can be thought of as the way in which one opens his or her heart to God. Intention enables us to experience prayer as a part of our ongoing relationship with God.
But intention goes beyond prayer in our lives as Jews; intention is also the mindfulness that we bring to our choices, decisions and actions in the world around us. Sometimes we live up to our intentions; sometimes we fall short.
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak of Pshi’scha, taught, “Good intentions alone, if not accompanied by action, are without value, as it is the action which makes the intentions so profound.”
Mindful intention is necessary for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in our Jewish communities. This, too, is kavanah in the purest sense…opening our hearts to God to see that which is holy and special in each of us.
And yet, as Rabbi Pshi’scha teaches, when it comes to truly including those on the margins of our Jewish communities, we must do more than speak of our intentions; we must act.
The Matan Institute is our flagship training program for Jewish professionals. Registration is open for our next cohort. Teams of Congregational Educators and Youth Professionals will learn skills and strategies that are applicable in both formal and informal education settings. A shared language of inclusion will enable these synagogue leaders to shift the culture of their communities. We hope you will register now.