In the past year I along with my fellow Moishe House San Diego residents & community have been very involved in our local community putting on a full array of events from Surfdallah to Shabbat dinners, however events have always been just that – local.
In the past year I am proud to say we have begun introducing many events, which focus on the global community, both Jewish and non-sectarian. This began due to the incredible relationship we have with our local supporters whom not only introduced us to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
After participating in a young professional study trip to Germany and Turkey and a service trip to Haiti (again made possible thanks to the generosity of our amazing local community). I returned to San Diego connected to a global Jewish world.
Last month I was able to co-chair the JDC’s first Young professional Service Trip to Ethiopia. I along with 16 other young professionals (including one of our newest Moishe House Family members: Martin Storrow of Moishe House West LA) got to explore Ethiopia and learn about all the ways the JDC is fulfilling its commitment to Jews all over the world as well as its commitment to Repair The World especially through its non-sectarian work.
I would like to share with you all two major themes, which struck me on this trip: Education & Health. We living in the developed world often take both of these for granted. Going to Ethiopia was a shock to my system to see and learn how for most Ethiopians both health and education are such luxuries.
Our group was fortunate to be able to spend some time with several students from Unity University who receive scholarship grants for women that enable them to attend university when they otherwise would not be able to go. These women are not only going to better themselves but it is evident that they are going to change their entire communities.
In Ethiopia women usually do not attain college degrees and are expected to be housewives taking care of the family. With these degrees they are changing the status of women in their country.
Our group also spent a couple days at rural schools in the province of Gondar, where we helped build a new brick and mortar school (so the children in this community will not have to study in mud huts). We also assisted JDC staff in the deworming of the children, giving them pills to swallow (something many of them had never had to do before).
For all these children going to school is such a privilege, as it means not having to work all day in the fields with their parents. It is these children that I hope will become a generation of change for their communities. Their educations will open up new social and economic opportunities for them.
Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s Chief Medical Director in Ethiopia, took us into his world by allowing us to see everything from patients whom have undergone spine and heart surgeries to clinic rotations in Gondar. In Gondar he oversees the clinic for the Falash Mura who are pending immigration to Israel.
After the trip, I was able to stay an extra week and spend time with Dr. Hodes (and my brother Shaun whom is volunteering with the JDC’s Jewish Service Corps.) and visit Mother Teresa’s Clinic for the Dying and Destitute. Seeing Dr. Hodes connect to each patient was not only humbling but it was personally motivating.
I hope that I along with my fellow participants are able to take what we have learned on this trip and, in coming home to our privileged lives, keep the ball rolling and continue to “Repair our World”.
Furthermore, I would invite all of you to learn more about the JDC and the amazing work it does in over 70 countries around the world. There are amazing Service and/or Study Trips coming up in 2012. If anyone would like more information or to find out how their Moishe House and community can get involved please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all a happy new year,