Friday, October 10, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays – Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

I spent several days over the last two weeks in religious services for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These holidays mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement.

I sat or stood, for hours at a time, sometimes praying, most times going off on my own. I wondered where the year went and how I could make both the coming year and me a better one. In short, how I could make a difference.

Like in all religious services, I imagine, we were a captive audience for rousing sermons by a chorus of passionate clergy. And if you’re a perpetual student like me, you relish those opportunities, when the sermon givers are good, to engage deeply in challenging intellectual ideas.

This season virtually all the rabbis talked about community. How our country, and the world, is going through a difficult, frightening time. How we have to remember that we have a home in our faith community and that with a little effort and involvement we can find friends and a place in the group. How we need to reach out to each other in ‘real time’ interaction and to understand that there’s no FaceBook or LinkedIn or MySpace that can take the place of real people.

Or as one rabbi put it, “There’s no such thing as casual community in Judaism.” Stick in your city’s name, your religion/spiritual choice, your country, your world. Same thing.

So here’s my offering for the week: an article from the food section of the New York Times, ‘Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town’ by Marian Burros. It’s the story of a Vermont town where “young artisans and agricultural entrepreneurs are expanding aggressively, reaching out to investors and working together to create a collective strength never before seen in this seedbed of Yankee individualism.” The last sentence in the article states “So many things are possible with collaboration.”

Now go read the complete article and imagine a whole country pulling together like that and you’ll see where I want to put my efforts in this new year of 5769 (2008-2009). Or to paraphrase one of the rabbis yesterday as the late afternoon sun lit up the stained glass windows behind the pulpit – we need a new generation of community builders.


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