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Dancing with the Moon: Try a healing dance inspired by ancient practices

By Jackie Barzvi

Published Jan 3, 2023

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This Curation is part of Spirituality.

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Dancing with the Moon

Why are the Jewish people often associated with the moon? One obvious reason is that our Hebrew calendar follows the moon, but could there be a deeper connection? The artist Micaela Ezra points out in one of her talks,= that our connection to the moon reminds us that our present state is always shifting. Throughout Jewish history we have had our highs and our lows. Unlike the sun, we are not always shining the brightest. There have been dark times in our past: war, discrimination, and exile. However, just as the moon waxes and wanes, so do we. Our lows are never permanent and the moon teaches us that brightness is just around the corner. The moon also brings us humility. Even when we are in a historical “golden age” or at our safest, most prosperous, at our peak of thriving as a people, the moon reminds us to stay grateful and in the moment.  

When we are in our low moments, what can we pull from Jewish history and tradition to bring us back up spiritually, physically, and energetically? Looking back through Mizrahi history, two customs come to mind that center around healing dance. Jewish Moroccans and Tunisians both shared a healing dance and trance practice with their Muslim neighbors. Jewish Moroccans participated in Gnawa ceremonies and Jewish Tunisians practiced Stambali. Both ceremonies involved people gathering together to share special trance music and comradery, while also making a sacred space for individuals to heal themselves spiritually and physically using dance.  

In the spirit of Jewish practices around the moon and healing dances, I invite you all to try a dance exercise in the next video that embodies these traditions in a new way. All are welcomed to move. No previous dance experience necessary! 

Movement as Medicine

For this dance practice we are going to use each part of our body piece by piece to help initiate our movements. Pretend there is a light moving through your body trying to highlight each different area. Let your movements flow from each section and try not to think about what it looks like. Instead focus on what it feels like. There is no right or wrong way to move! Let your body take over and try your best to quiet your mind.  

 

Movement areas in order: spine, shoulders, chest, hands, hips, knees, feet, hair, and full body.

 

The song featured in this video is “Tahabil by Quarter to Africa.

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Jackie Barzvi is a professional raqs sharqi (belly dance) performer and instructor.

Reflections

Jewish connections to the Moon 

Do you incorporate any Jewish traditions around the moon into your life? Two examples could be Rosh Chodesh or Kiddush Levanah.  

Healing Rituals 

Are there any rituals or practices in Judaism that bring you a sense of emotional or spiritual healing?  

Checking in 

How did you feel before and after the dance exercise? Did you notice any differences mentally or physically? 

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