Putting Words into Action


A call to action by Ariella Zirkind

It might be a stretch to say I was born reader. My mother, aware of the ever-present tensions between nurture and nature, made sure I was well habituated when it came to books. The library became a place as familiar as home, and I settled into the rhythm of that world: a good book, a soft chair. My mom was overjoyed and I was officially hooked.

A reader and writer occupy two separate rooms, but the walls are thin. I soon found that on paper, daydreams can become stories. Anxieties can find relief. Opinions stack together to build a fortress of thought and theology. And then, of course, there is the reader. The wonderful recipient of your labor to whom you are either speaking or ignoring, depending on the day. I found myself twice enthralled.

I went along this way for years. I read pieces I considered brave and inspiring. I wrote with the genuine hope that my writing was meaningful. Then the internet exploded with Female Jewish writers, and I inhaled it. I thought I had found familiars, sisters who also wanted to move forward together.

For every article written, we felt the pride of impact. Each piece read was a boast. It said that we were the kinds of women who were doing things, but we weren't doing anything at all. This process of enlightenment was limited, and progress was virtually undetectable. Our activism had been confined to the private space of couch and mind. It was enjoyable, but it was not my mission. I do not believe it should be any of our purposes.

The writing is not the work. The reading, though it pained me to face it, is not the work either. They are the tools we can use to educate and rally, the very first step. But it is only what comes next that really matters.

If we are unhappy, then we are responsible for finding happiness. If we are spiritually wandering, then we need to find a point of connection. If we are frustrated for being judged by our appearances, then we need to value each other differently. If we are tired of feeling voiceless, then we need to show up and listen. We blow ideas around like clouds; beautiful, soft and empty. We forget that we are supposed to swell and darken. We are supposed to rain. It is always the doing that matters most. It is still the water that makes things grow.

I am not throwing away the beautiful value of platforms like this one where women can share and listen, educate and learn. But I do want you to know, beloved reader, that the most important thing is what happens next, when you put down your phone, when you close the book. When you venture into the chaotic world and have a chance to be the things you have read about. Change does not happen here. It happens where you are, on the other side of this bridge of paper and words.

Vision and reality occupy two different spaces, but the walls are thin. What we want is not far away. Put down your phone. Close the book. I believe so deeply in what we can grow together. When we fill ourselves up with nurturing goodness and then let it all pour down. Covering our communities with care and action. Then settling into our comfortable chairs and watching everything bloom.

To read more by Ariella, click on the link here.