It was right around the time my Instagram was finally taking off when I came across @AtTheWellProject, a platform dedicated to the wellness of women through Judaism and health. This was also the time when after two years of figuring out what I needed spiritually from my culture, my people, and my beliefs, I was finally beginning to find it.
As a couple of twenty-something’s married and living in a new city, we did a lot of what I refer to as Shul-hopping. Growing up, both my bae and I had consistently attended the same Shul or Synagogue for the majority of our lives. When we finally became our own little family we thought it best to find a synagogue or community which we could make ours.
Unfortunately, this still hasn’t happened and I was starting to get annoyed to say the least. We haven’t found one synagogue in New York City that we vibe with - maybe it’s the Midwest-ness coming out in us but it is a totally different ball game here.
Fast-forward to more recent times when one Instagram account changed my life, or at least helped me find my own little temple once a month! By simply double tapping a few pictures and actually taking the time to read the captions, I found a whole new aspect to Judaism I had never been familiar with before: Rosh Chodesh. I was familiar with Rosh Chodesh in the sense that the calendar from the Jewish funeral home my grandmother uses always has Rosh Chodesh marked, but I hadn’t given thought to the ritual of it.
As I went from At The Well Project’s insta account to their website and further and further down the rabbit hole, I realized that going through the rituals of Rosh Chodesh was just what I needed in my life.
Rosh Chodesh, which means “head of the month”, (think “Rosh Hashanah”, which is the start of the new year) is somewhat of a lost concept for Jewish women in my opinion. Thousands of years ago, the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) was a time for women. Israelite women received the New Moon as a day off for their faith in G-d for not letting Aaron take their jewelry to make a false idol of a golden calf*, but it’s like, obviously we wouldn’t let anyone take our precious gems.
For a very long time this ritual of Rosh Chodesh for Jewish women hasn’t been so present until At The Well Project brought it back. With the help of a close girl friend of mine, we poured over the Moon Manual for the month of Sivan and hosted our very first Rosh Chodesh gathering.
What I love about how At The Well Project is how they translate the themes of each Hebrew month into easily doable practices and relatable topics. The theme for Sivan is blossom, harvest, and transformation, and it correlates perfectly with my love of counting the Omer. Besides that point, I was beyond inspired when several women joined me in my home for our first New Moon gathering this past Monday. We began the evening by each lighting a candle to signify the new moon and to feel its light (which I learned from purchasing At The Well's guidebook), then we began the rituals.
Most importantly, we began to be present in the moment and for each other.
We went through the Moon Manual for the month and spoke openly about how each of us can be open to receiving and what we can do to be more present in our lives. Welcoming the new moon with such a strong female presence and taking part in a ritual which my ancestors have been performing for thousands of years was breathtaking. I cannot remember the last time I took a moment to just be here, right now, and to be present for others while being present for myself.
Since that evening, my search to find a synagogue or a community that felt like home was put on pause. I know that my own journey in seeking the Shekinah (the divine) and finding the tools within my faith to embody the meaning of an eishet chayil (a badass wife) are here, in the present moment, in my soul and in my home. That is where my temple and community lives.
As the Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote in his book, A Letter in the Scroll, “just as the Sabbath is empty time, so the tabernacle was empty space-- signaling Judaism’s great spiritual axiom, that G-d lives in the room we make for him in the human heart.”
If you're looking for more resources on Rosh Chodesh and New Moon Gatherings you MUST check out At The Well Project. You'll find a complete guide of Moon Manuals and endless articles on all topics related to Judaism + Women.