Confliction. I’ve been conflicted since I can remember. It’s how I got my name, MissConception. I always wanted… both. I was raised Jewish, but we celebrated Christmas, too. I was straight, but also curious. I was sweet but also craved the dark side. I want a veggie burger, add bacon, don’t be alarmed I’m a Jew and a pagan. Controversy was something I lived for, and I relished in the fact that I could be both; break that paradigm definition regime and redefine what it means to be human. When you do that, conflict is unavoidable.
Every year around Labor Day, I run into a myriad of conflicted opportunities. Normally during this three day weekend of celebration and communion, I would be parading out at the Black Rock Dessert in Nevada, or watching my favorite band Phish at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colorado for three nights with 27,000 people. Or I could be at at any other major event happening around the country right before school starts. But working in Jewish education, not to mention the High Holidays usually hit right around this time, it’s not exactly the most ideal time to take a vacation.
So, yes, I’ve ben conflicted… How’s a girl supposed to go offline to commune with her family while visiting her Mecca and reset when there is SO much working to do!? And such has been most of my life. I find I’m always disappointing someone when I cannot show up for them during this sacred time of communion.
I can still feel the Jewish guilt my mother would cast my direction when I told her “if it’s Labor Day Weekend, I’m not going to be able to make it”. The weddings I’ve missed. The gigs I’ve turned down. The trips I didn’t get to go on because of the scheduling conflicts around working school calendars and synagogue life; and I HATE letting people down.
This Labor Day, I was back in my home town visiting family and it was the first time in years I’ve just “chilled”. Many of my friends were at various engagements across the country, having a great time of their 2021 lives, and instead this year I spent Labor Day weekend traveling back to California and gearing up for Rosh Hashanah.
Well, the other day my friend texted me from the Colorado Phish show asking if I knew that the band covered the Jewish prayer “Avinu Malkeinu – and what does Avinu Malkeinu even mean?” I’ll admit, I still had to look it up to be exact.
Offhand, Avinu Malkeinu means literally “our Father, our King”. It is a declaration, an ask of forgiveness and sincerity after a sweet new year paved with intention and admission. Avinu Malkeinu is a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services during the Ten Days of Repentance, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. During this time, we are supposed to do a deep dive into our souls, get really real with our hearts, and ask ourselves, who do I need to forgive, and who do I need to ask forgiveness from? Who have I wronged? What have I done to cause harm in this world? And how can we make it right?
Not easy questions, or answers all around, especially in a day an age when offending people left and right on Facebook is a daily occurance. Not to mention the gender inequalities around the Avinu Malkeinu male patriarchal language… (more CONFLICTION!) but the one thing I admire most about Judaism is that there is room to evolve. We love a good argument! This is what the Mishnah and Talmud are all about… talking through the laws and customs and concepts and figuring out how they still are relevant in today’s fast paced society. Even the rabbis were conflicted back in the day…. and still to this day, we continue to work through it and work it out.
In this day in age of conflicting, as a writer, I decided to take it upon myself to write my own version of Avinu Malkeinu, and I encourage you to add your own proclamations below. I’ve asked myself: “What have we done, and what are we going to do different?” I also changed the nouns and verbs to reflect my own experiences and conflictions. I changed who the prayer address and talks to, so that it’s not just God, but actually talking to each other. After all, God is everywhere and in all of us; it is a verb. I decided this year, I’m making this prayer my own.
Our Father, our King, we have messed up, again and again
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo chah-tah-noo lih-fah-neh-chah
Our Mother, our Queen, we have let you down
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo ayn lah-noo meh-lech eh-lah ah-tah
Oh Goddess, oh Protector, we beg of you to show kindness as the face of your name
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo ahh-say ee-mah-noo lih-mah-ahn shih-meh-chah
Oh Abba, our Safety, let slavery be abolished and renew our faith in each other
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo bah-raych ah-lay-noo shah-nah toe-vah
Our Founders, Our leaders, remove evil from the harshness of your tongues
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo bah-tail may-ahh-lay-noo kole geh-zay-rote kah-shote
Our Mothers, our Elders, mend the intentions of our enemies with compassion and friendship
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo bah-tail mahch-shih-vote sone-ay-noo
Our Ima, oh Divine spirit of the wind, soften the blows of our foes
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo hah-fair ahh-tzaht oy-vay-noo
My Wizards, my Lieges, wipe out all oppression and adversary from existence
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo kah-lay kole tzahr oo-mahsh-teen may-ah-lay-noo
Our Seekers, our Teachers, gently close the mouths off adversity and bring kindness to our hearts
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo s’tome pee-yote mahss-tee-nah-noo ooh-mih-kaht-ree-gay-noo
Our Government, our Systems, remove wickedness, sickness, hunger, entrapment, and destruction from the grooves of our framework
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo kah-lay deh-ver vih-cheh-rev vih-rah-ahv oosh-vee ooh-mahsh-cheet vih-ah-vone oosh-mahd mib-nay bih-ree-teh-chah
Our Brother, Our sister of different colors and wisdoms, keep each other safe in health and sanity and humility
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo mih-nah mah-gay-fah mee-nah-chah-lah-teh-chah
Our Mentors, our Muses, pardon and forgive all our flaws and faults
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo s’lach oo-m’chahl lih-chole ah-voh-no-tay-noo
Our Ring master, our Creator, please blot out and remove our transgressions from our timeline
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo mih-chay vih-ha-ah-vair pih-shah-ay-noo vih-chah-toe-tay-noo mee-neh-gehd ay-neh-chah
Our Guiding Light, Adonais, erase all of our mistakes, but let the lessons lay
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo mih-choke bih-rah-chah-meh-chah hah-rah-beem kole shit-ray cho-voe-tay-noo
Our Presidents and our Statesman, bring us back to community in wholehearted redemption
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo hah-chah-zee-ray-noo bit-sho-vah shih-lay-mah lih-fah-neh-chah
Our Shamans, our Medicine men, send a complete healing to those who are sick, in the body, head or heart
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo shih-lach rih-fooh-ahh shih-lay-mah lih-choh-lay ah-meh-chah
Our Captains, our Chiefs, dissipate the evil of the convictions held against us
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo k’rah roe-ahh gih-zahr dee-nay-noo
Our Family, our People, let God’s name be a verb, and God’s face be shown in the actions that you bring forth among humanity
ah-vee-noo mahl-kay-noo zahch-ray-noo bih-zee-kah-rone tove lih-fah-neh-chah
Now more than ever we must ground ourselves down in unity and come together, despite our conflicted agendas. United we will fall. Together, we can stand, hand in hand, and walk towards a new world.
Here’s to a New year, to showing up for yourself and your community in due time, and to embracing confliction for the better.