Shabbat Shalom: Judaism as a mechanism for groundedness

May 16, 2024 | Article

By: Jenna Raimist
Director of Annual Campaign

In Parashat Emor, God bestows a series of laws. First to Aaron and the priests, instructing them to stay pure and holy by having no contact with the dead, not using the Name of God in vain, not allowing hair to grow unruly, and via a series of other laws related to sexuality and marriage that, with the utmost respect for Torah, feel antiquated in the year 2024. Next, God gives festival-specific laws to all the people. He notes the seventh day as the day of Sabbath rest, the fifteenth day of the first month as the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the tenth day of the seventh month as the Day of Atonement, and the fifteenth day of the seventh month as the Festival of Huts. God concludes with a dark series of laws including, but not limited to, stoning, life in place of life, and an eye for an eye.

As a JEWISHcolorado staff member, I have the privilege of participating in professional development through a Jewish lens with an educator at the Jewish Learning Collaborative. Much of what we focus on is making Jewish ritual relevant to me in present day, often when it feels antiquated or seemingly impossible to prioritize in my modern, non-observant Colorado life. Last week during a conversation about counting the Omer, I asked my educator’s opinion on why the most Jewishly observant people in my life are also the most logical and fact-based, when it seems like those identities are often at odds in practice. Here’s where we landed: in a 2024 world of uncertainty and immense fear, where up is down and down is up, we can use our Judaism as a mechanism for groundedness, guard rails, and much-needed structure. When nothing makes sense around us, we can find understanding in ritual for no reason other than it’s what our ancestors did before us and will continue to do after we’re gone, whether it looks the same or a little bit different as the way we navigate the world continues to evolve.

I’ve started making challah the occasional Friday afternoon to tune out the world and be with myself as I knead. Maybe one day in a future Shabbat message, as my baking hopefully improves, I’ll include a photo for all of you. Until then I hope you find your thing—whether it be rooted in Jewish ritual or not—that helps you make up, up and down, down again. Shabbat Shalom.

Please email Jenna Raimist at with questions or comments.