Our lives are rich tapestries woven of moments ~ the most memorable and the mundane. People, sensations, locations, encounters, emotions ... these are the varied colors and textures of our tapestry and the places in which we weave our connections.
RITUAL allows us to gather and raise up the threads we weave, honor the sacred transitions within our life's unfolding, and invite others to bear witness. Both a process and a vista along life's journey, ritual provides a lens through which to view and unite past, present, and future with magnificent clarity.
Holding the Fringes ... what's in a name ...
Jewish wisdom tradition places value on customs that assist us in creating sacred time and space and in weaving deep connections. A tallit (prayer shawl) is worn by many Jews while we pray in the mornings and at other sacred times. When we gather the fringes (tzitzit) at the four corners of the tallit, we symbolically unite the four corners of the Earth ~ those places that are most disparate ~ bringing them together in love. Holding the knots and twists of the tzitzit between our fingers, we grasp an ancient ritual technology that can connect us with our ancestors, our children's children, and the deepest recesses of our inner being. The symbolic energy of the tallit is utilized in lifecycle rituals including weddings, baby namings and brit milah, b'nei mitzvah services, and funerals.
I have chosen Holding the Fringes to "name" my work because I regularly witness both the power of ancient spiritual practices and the energetic potential that exists at "the fringes" of our connection to tradition. Our 21st Century world has seen a great surge in the number of people who don't affiliate with any particular religious tradition, yet who identify as "spiritual" people.
Many of us are deeply moved by and thirst for ways to connect to the Spiritual Flow of the Universe ~ though we use any number of words to name it. That Force ~ that which grounds us and inspires us to soar ~ is unnamable in Jewish tradition (a tetragrammaton that is meant to be unpronounceable though it is human nature to name everything, thus we have inserted many different names for those four Hebrew letters).
For centuries, Jewish mystics have discussed the holiness of the "white fire" of Torah ~ the potential energy that lies in the blank spaces between the sacred words scribed in black ink on parchment. I see the fringes as another locus of potential energy. And if such an energetic resides at the fringes of a sacred garment, how much more so at the "fringes" of one's connection to the Sacred and to Judaism's rich spiritual heritage. My work is helping individuals, families, and groups explore and appreciate the abundance within our "fringes" and facilitating ways to connect to the Source from which we all flow.
Rabbi Jessica K. Shimberg, Ritual Artist
Rabbi Jessica’s ritual artistry arises from her long love affair with Jewish prayer practices and text, her deep appreciation of other wisdom traditions, her ability to find the sacred within the ordinary, her commitment to spiritual nourishment, her lived experience navigating the intersection of secular and religious practices, and her genuine desire to engage and activate opportunities to elevate holiness in our world. Jessica's ability to make religious tradition come alive and to design innovative approaches to life-cycle ritual for people of varying interests, backgrounds, orientations, styles of learning, and ages has been recognized as a priceless gift to individuals and families who engage her services.
“During the Bar Mitzvah service, you did such a wonderful job explaining and providing context and comfort to our family and friends that we are still hearing how wonderful it was. You made everyone feel welcome and engaged ... everything you said and did helped transform a clearing in the woods into the most beautiful sanctuary as you led all of us on such a spiritual journey that morning. Plus, you created a special community out of a random assortment of our family and friends, which was one of the most powerful things."
"Your presence and attention to so many ritual moments we might have missed made our wedding ceremony so much more meaningful. Far more than being an "officiant" on our wedding day, you helped us (long before our wedding) to consider the values and desires at the core of our relationship. You honored both of our religious traditions and family customs and worked with us to incorporate these into our ceremony. Because of your guidance and attention, our wedding felt sacred and the process you took us through helps us as our relationship grows and our circumstances change. We feel like we can turn to you as a valued confidante and friend. Thank you."
"My wife and I found The Little Minyan after moving to Columbus from Boston. We were immediately impressed with Jessica’s warmth and intelligence and her understanding that, for us, defining our Judaism is an evolving and challenging journey. We became members shortly thereafter and were thrilled to have Jessica create and lead a beautiful brit bat ceremony for our daughter when she born. The way she welcomed our entire family and circle of friends and engaged all four generations of our family made that day one I will cherish forever."