Friday, August 31, 2012
Danny Kaplan- MH Chicago
Community Last week, Moishe House Chicago hosted a zero-waste Shabbat. Together as a community, we made blessings, broke tree-shaped challah, and caught up on each others’ lives. We also inaugurated our new compost machine, disposing of organic scraps and spinning them around in its tumbler. We chose to do a zero-waste Shabbat because of the value of environmental stewardship in Judaism. In Hebrew, the word for the first man (אדמ) derives from the word for soil, or earth (אדמה). Moishe House Chicago focuses on programming that pursues social justice, but much of our mission resonates strongly with me when I think of the values underlying environmental stewardship. We tend to the earth in order to both cultivate the fruits of our labor and foster a healthy, sustainable environment for our global community and our posterity. This is what MHC seeks to accomplish when we minimize waste, but also when we advocate for more equitable mortgage practices, better public services, and political agency for marginalized groups in Chicago. The Jewish value of צדק (Justice) is a predominant theme in MHC programming. In a way, environmental stewardship ties directly into all of our צדק programs. Even if we are not directly working to improve the earth in the sense of אדמה, every program we do works to create cultivate a healthier, more sustainable life for our community. Sometimes the community we try to foster is global in scope. Other times it extends across the city of Chicago or even just the people in our living room on a given night. While אדמה and םעול are two different concepts, in the end they both mean the same thing: earth. Their interrelatedness demonstrates how social justice and environmental justice are intertwined. I’ve realized that lessons we can learn from a zero-waste Shabbat can be directly applied to addressing the social issues facing our community. At the end of this month, I will be leaving Moishe House after one year as a resident. This last zero-waste Shabbat has given me much to think about as I prepare to leave this space. As we tend to the earth, so too does the earth nurture us and teach us important values. Moishe House residents foster vibrant Jewish communities wherever they live, but we also become more enriched through the people that embody our community. I am incredibly appreciative of the people in Chicago who regularly attend our events, shape our program content, and provide valuable spiritual and intellectual insights. I’ve made valuable friendships with Moishe House community members, and I’ve grown and matured in unexpected ways through knowing these people. It’s been a pleasure living inside of the Moishe House walls, but this experience would have been only a fraction as valuable if we didn’t have the incredible people who make up our community. They are a crucial part of making Moishe House what it truly is. Though I’m leaving the actual “house” of Moishe, I look forward to continuing to attend programs and take part of this special Moishe House community.