Judaism Your Way


Gam V’Gam – Both-And

Hi everyone, I’m Rabbi Caryn Aviv at Judaism Your Way.

Can you BELIEVE it’s almost August?  How did that happen?  We might be in the fullness of summer, and yet, here at Judaism Your Way, we’re deep into planning the High Holidays for late September.  Also, I just scheduled my daughter’s first visit to a college campus, so – WOW!

Noticing how fast summer is flying by got me thinking about transitions in general, and the spiritual importance of ritual to mark those transitions.

Every life event in Jewish spirituality is what I call a ‘gam v’gam’ – a both/and moment to mark goodbye to one chapter of life, and welcome in all the wonder and uncertainty of the next chapter.  It’s where we reflect on the past and how far we’ve traveled, we pause in the present moment to experience the awe and wonder of this present moment, and we cross an invisible spiritual threshold into the future.  And when we’re witnessed by loved ones in these transition moments, that can feel magical.

This Hebrew phrase – gam v’gam – acknowledges the complexities of transitions.  Sometimes it’s gam bitter v’gam sweet.  For example, so many parents in our Open Tent Be Mitzvah program express the bittersweetness of seeing their kids transform in middle school.  The bitterness is saying goodbye to their little one who used to love cuddling and snuggling and being silly, and the uncertainty of saying hello to an emerging teen who wants to hang out more with friends and spend more time in their room with the door shut.

You know a transition ritual ‘works’ when it opens you up to feeling the magnitude of time passing and how precious our lives are.  Transition rituals help us slow down and take stock.  They also help us appreciate and express gratitude for all the ways we and our loved ones grow over the course of our lives.

So in this season of gam v’gam – the fullness of the summer and the thinking about fall right around the corner, I’d like to offer all of us a blessing.

May we pause in this present moment.  May we breathe deeply into what is unfolding in our lives, the bitter and the sweet.  May we offer gratitude for what is, right now, and may be accept all that changes.   Amen.

Watch Rabbi Caryn’s message: