This past Shabbat was a nice solid first for MHSS (& was awesome besides!): greater-community-co-ordinated, Ethiopian Shabbat :
One of MHSS's most active, enthusiastic, present community members, Roey, co-ordinated December's monthly Open Shabbat (davening in our living room, kiddush / motzi / homecooked dinner, talking & laughing & staying as long as you want -- even till the following evening, as some regularly do). He wanted to focus on the Ethiopian Jewish community: Ethiopian-Jewish culture and struggles, history and background, ritual and identity; to bring knowledge and understanding of this segment of our people into the "standard" MHSS community through our popular (my favorite!) monthly MHSS-hosted Shabbat.
In addition to the regular reasons I get excited for MHSS Shabbats, I was especially looking forward to this one because:
1. An MHSS community member was excited for a specific program to happen -- and made it happen!
2. Through this event, (thanks to Roey!,) MHSS was provided the opportunity to reach out to and embrace (or at least connect with) a subset of our culture, a community who is yet a stranger in our midst; establish connections; and bring us together -- all of which I hope leads to continued communication and collaboration between our communities -- or, even more honestly, I hope Roey's efforts were received by the local Ethiopian-Jewish people as warm and gracious and inviting; and, now that people know we are here, that they will come to our home and will invite us to share in their Jewish and Ethiopian lives as they currently live (through organizations in which they are active, or even less formally).
More than educate the MHSS masses, Roey's Ethiopian Shabbat connected MHSS to the D.C.-area Ethiopian-Jewish community, fusing, infusing, expanding our two communities, our bases of outreach, by bringing us together, by giving us a chance to collaborate and socialize with one another. Roey's efforts to reach out to the local Ethiopian-Jewish community in order to bring his vision to fruition served to introduce our communities to one another and created a portal of dialogue and partnership, the potential results of which I am very excited.
To Roey, I offer once again a huge Yasher Koach, Mazal Tov, and Thanks!
I hope other MHSS community members will follow Roey's example and live the reality we share with people regularly: that we are here as a community resource, that we are (or at least can be) more than that which results from the combined energies and desires of just the MHSS residents.
And, I say, once again: Thanks, Moishe House. =D