Sunday, May 30, 2010

Moishe and Marley

I've lived in Moishe House for a few years now, and there have been innumerable experiences that I would describe as meaningful. But in recent memory, there's one that stands out pretty high above the rest. About a month or so after the earthquake in Haiti we hosted a Shabbat both to raise money for relief efforts and to come together as a community to think and express our feelings about one of the more tragic events to occur in our lifetimes.

It was a wonderful crowd, and Sarah, who was leading the Shabbat, brought in a couple amazing speakers. A friend of hers spoke of his experience both before and after the earthquake (he does international development work and had spent quite a bit of time in a Haitian orphanage before the earthquake). In addition to walking us through his experiences, he brought pictures of the orphanage before and after the earthquake, which put things in perspective in a way that photos on the news really couldn't.

But the highlight of the evening for everyone, and probably my most memorable Moishe moment ever, came when a young Haitian singer - 18 years old, I think - spoke to us and sang a few songs. He barely spoke English, so my roomate Maura translated for him. He won a singing contest in Haiti and was traveling around the US raising money for an organization focused on access to clean water. As is typical with our Shabbats, people were sitting on any available surface - chairs, couches, the floor, stairs, window sills, etc. He started to sing, and I was surprised that the song was familiar - Bob Marley's Redemption Song. He encouraged us to sing along, and from all corners of the room we did just that.

It was the kind of touching experience that's difficult to explain, but it was one of those rare times when you realize just how interconnected we all are. Here's this young man from Haiti, he's grown up in a completely different culture, speaks a completely different language and has experienced a tragedy that most of us really couldn't even imagine. And yet we had a common purpose that night - to stand in solidarity and bring support to all affected by the earthquake - and we also had a common language - the language of Marley... Pretty amazing.


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