Thursday, May 3, 2007

Props to Ari and Alyson

As May creeps in, we approach Spring here in Boston with bittersweet anticipation. Our community is booming, we have fabulous new housemates coming in, after a tough selection process and lots of great candidates. But Ari and Alyson are leaving, off to Mali and Israel, respectively, and we are going to miss them dearly.

To explain why we will miss Ari so much, I look to this past Shabbat. We had over 40 people at our home, lively services, our usual complicated kashrut system at dinner, a dvar tikkun - jewish social justice teaching - about the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, awesome food, lots of clean up. And through the whole thing, our house members didn't say a word. I mean, of course we talked to people, but the leaders that Ari helped develop created volunteer roles and divided them up, and several different people took responsibility for set up, clean up, announcements, ritual stuff, food stuff, teaching. When I got upstairs, one of our volunteers was already there greeting everyone at the door. This is really a testament to Ari's organizing of the Shabbat team, putting faith in our volunteers to take our community to new heights through their own creativity and commitment.

On a similar note, I look to a lively debate happening daily in my email account about when we are going to schedule our next Artist's way session. Alyson got our friend Shira, who is the head of a major arts education program, to reframe the Artist's Way creativity program into a three part Jewish arts workshop. Alyson built the group and worked with Shira to develop a program, that included sharing, making art - including my favorite - finger painting! - and reflecting on what our work meant to us and how we could continue to grow as creators. The 3-part series went so well that when it was over, the members of the group didn't want it to end. So now, they are working on their own to make the group keep going without our money. Members of the group are also working together to infuse our all-night Shavuot celebration with an arts track, so that people can alternate between Torah study and workshops in dance, drama, and other creative things. And tonight I get to come home to a poetry workshop with one of my favorite Jewish poets!

We don't know how we will live without the bright eyes, brilliant minds, big smiles, and big hearts of Ari and Alyson, but we will work hard to honor their legacy by continuing to believe in our leaders, and by promoting spiritual and creative programming that we hope will be even half as cool as what they've pulled off.

We love you guys!

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