Ritual is necessary

for us to know anything.        Ken Kesey

Metal Snowflake by trec_lit

For the first time in several years, I was home for Christmas. With people I have known all my life. All a little older, a little grayer, a little wiser. I was navigating an in between time of being an adult but still being in the younger set. Balancing the responsibility of taking care of folks while still holding them up as elders vessels.

This year we had Christmas dinner together. When I was younger, we had breakfast together many years for Christmas. Probably because, there were more kids around then and we were anxious to open presents. I was sort of looking forward to falling back to that time but it didn’t happen exactly like that. Also no one put up a Christmas tree. That. Was. Weird. I was looking forward to seeing my grandmother’s brass 12 days of Christmas ornaments on a tree. I guess what I am saying is that Christmas was different this year, not bad, just different. My family is ushering a new era.

A week after coming home I went to see, what I thought was, an art exhibit at the San Francisco Jewish Museum. My friend is a fan of a local architect, Stanley Saitowitz. I have seen a couple of his buildings but didn’t know that he was also an artist. As I walked into the exhibit, I realized the pieces were not just art, but practical objects meant for specific uses. The specific term is Judaica.

Judaica Kabalah Cup
by shalom gurewicz

Not only were Saitowitz’s pieces displayed but also photos of similar instruments being used. As I read, I realized that each piece had a specific use and purpose and time when it was to be used. Each object had a ritual surrounding it. It seems that where ever you are you can connect back to the culture through these rituals that have been passed down for ages. The objects become a symbol of that tradition. Community is being built by the continuous sharing of these rituals and the passing down of these objects.

The exhibit made me think back to the objects I cherish in my family, particularly those Christmas ornaments. Honestly, I was also a bit jealous. A lot of my rituals revolve around food and enjoying meals with others but not so much the objects holding or covering that food. I could not think of something I had that would be an “especially beautiful object…considered a praiseworthy way of honoring God’s commandments”(source). It seems so easy for members of that community to step out of the world’s daily monotony back into the cocoon of their community by seeing these objects and remembering the ceremonies attached to them.

Do you have objects that have special meaning because of a ritual they are used for? How do these help build community for you?