Sleep to Dream

By: Rabbi Lisa Delson

sleepAs we head into the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial weekend, the words “I Have a Dream” and “We Shall Overcome” ring in my mind. These words carry such power and weight even though I was not alive to hear them. Nor did I experience the pain and suffering that brought them to light. Our prophets guide us to increased action and care with which we deal with others.  Yet, there is still so much work to do. Inequality between races, sexes, and religions still prevail. We are still talking about the need for living wages and eradicating institutional discrimination. Dr. King’s dream is stalled 51 years later. But slowly, slowly portions of the dreams are coming true just not fast enough.

As a mother of a five month old, I think about sleep a great deal. I have not slept for more than six hours straight in 23 weeks. People like to ask me how my son is sleeping in a variety of ways. “How did he sleep last night?” “Does he sleep through the night yet?” “What kind of sleep training principles are you using?” My answer is usually that he sleeps enough and I am functioning just fine. Whether my son sleeps for five hours at a time or 12, when I sleep, my dreams are filled with thoughts, hopes, and prayers for the future:

I dream that he grows up knowing the love of family.
I hope he learns that life is sweet with bits of sour thrown in.
I pray that he recognizes every opportunity that comes his way because of those who came before him.
I hope he never experiences hatred because of his religion.
I dream that he sees the suffering of others and does not shy away from it but runs toward it with open arms to help in whatever way he can.
I pray that his Judaism forces him to step out into the cold to do for others what has been done for him.
I dream that he knows a good life but without his help, the world is not good enough.
I hope that there will be equality on all levels in his lifetime.
I offer these words in prayer for my son.

Our prophet, Micah, spoke the words that I hope to emulate for my son in order that he does it too:

“Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Dr. King showed us how to do those three things. Let us all sleep in order to dream for equality and peace and wake up ready to do the work.

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Rabbi Lisa Delson serves as Assistant Rabbi and Program Director at Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can find more of her writing at


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