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Posts Tagged ‘Pirkei Avot’

“It is not up to us to complete the task
(of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:21

Making a difference matters to me. With every ounce of my being, I realize that taking care of not only myself, but my community and the larger world have to become the forefront of my existence.  While I have done my part, I truly believe I need to do more.

ChavaWithKippah21Nov2015

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I haven’t done nothing to make the world a better place. I have given many dogs a safe home for the remainder of their lives; I have opened my home to a homeless, pregnant woman and her toddler, as well as those that needed a place to stay for a long while; the environment and making conscious living choices have guided my every step; human rights is always being addressed in my shopping choices, my politics, and my teaching others. As much as possible, I walk the walk and I talk the talk. I’ve started a nonprofit and stood up for what I believed in.

I have also had years when I had to step back and take care of my family more than the world around me.  Those years were hard because I always felt like I wanted to do more, but that just wasn’t reality. There were years when I stood by my son’s hospital bed so that he would one day thrive again. And he did.  And the best part of that journey is that he now actively engages in the journey, as does his younger brother. We all do our best to make the world a better place.

Over the last few months, I have been settling in my new home in a new city, Houston.  As is often the case, many of us compartmentalize during transitions. I was no different.  But the last few weeks has created a sense of despair for me. Our presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants, refugees, and the Muslim people as if they were the lowest of human beings. I have hated watching victims turned into villains.

Politicians want to turn the Syrian refugees back to the brutality of their homeland.  How disgusting!!!!

Last night, as I was feeling despondent over the realities of the Syrian refugees, I received an email from MoveOn.org telling me about a local rally, Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees.

YES!!!

I couldn’t believe how driven I felt to go. Even the questionable weather didn’t matter.  Nothing could stand in the way of my desire to go to THIS rally. Over the last week, I have written letters, called politicians, but still I felt like I needed to do more and I also felt so alone with each task.

Earlier this week my older son asked me if we would do our part to help the refugees and I said ‘absolutely’. There is no question that I will help if I can figure out how.  I barely have what I need and yet I would open my home in EVERY way I could.  Our family may be struggling, but we really do have all of our needs met.

Over the last decade, I have stood up against domestic violence, Darfur, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, slave labor, and consumerism.  I have helped all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. I have also done my part to care for our environment and animals – although not enough.

But this past week pushed me over the edge. I found myself feeling such intense pain for those that need so much. Every fiber of my being was yearning to hang with people that believed as I did, people that wanted to help those in need of help.  So receiving the email talking about the rally was perfect.

In truth, yesterday’s action felt more poignant, maybe even personal, then many of the3 cultures 21Nov2015 other actions I have participated in over the years.

In case you are wondering why. . . . Back in the late 1920’s or early 30’s, my father’s family escaped from Kiev. Pogroms could have crippled his family, but they never actually succeeded. Instead my grandfather Yidel, his wife Esther, and their two children Jack and Phil made it to Canada where they survived and even thrived having two more children, my father-Morry and his little brother Sid. Had they not escaped, they would have potentially died or suffered great losses. While my father’s immediate family survived, there were many people that were left behind and some of those were killed because they did not have the ability to reach freedom.  As a matter of fact, there is no that we know of who was left behind or that has survived to this day. Between the pogroms and the Holocaust, the only family that survived were the ones that got away.

To make it simple, my brother and I are alive today because my father’s family got away.  Had my grandfather stayed in Kiev, my brother and I would never have been born.

Chava with Federico Salas-Isnardi and Donna Olson-Salas. 21Nov2015

From left to right, Donna Olson- Salas and Federico Salas-Isnardi with me at Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees Rally

What I am learning about our my socially active journey is that none of us could do what we do alone. Today, I connected with passionate people who were willing to do their part to make a difference. None of us are islands. With the political climate what it is today, I am so grateful for the new friends and my friends all over the globe that are doing their part.

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

A few years ago, I created a nonprofit called My Second Foundation for adult survivors (or what I call thrivers) of childhood trauma. What I learned during the initial process of creating my organization is that you need a village. While I am only now starting to consider how to fully make my nonprofit thrive, I have learned that we all need to help those that are struggling. There is nothing acceptable about anyone suffering from violence of any type or poor health due to poverty.  We have enough resources in this world to keep people safe, so we all need to do our part.  It really is not optional.

And as for me, I am also choosing to do whatever I can to make sure that the human race does not perpetuate another genocide if at all possible. Haven’t there been enough?

Yesterday’s action seemed so simple, but with our current political climate and the ‘limited’ thinking of many, our village needs to stand firm and do WHATEVER we can to save a life. And let’s make sure there is NO QUESTION!

STAY LOUD. STAY CLEAR….REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE!

All lives matter!

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more than anything
i want to trust a journey
that i don’t understand~
© Terri St. Cloud

I am a wandering Jew, a seeker, a dreamer. . .

While I was not born with wings, I was born with the urge to soar and the spirit to thrive.

Each and every exploration I take begins with a first step.  The terrain is always the wilderness, a terrain that I will only understand after I trust my steps and begin the dance of emergence.

 A lifetime of journeys never calms my spirit when it is time to start again. As someone who is ready to land and wants to do not just good things wherever I stand, but great things wherever I stand and beyond. I long to be impactful with how I walk in the world. I want to make a difference.

An inherent pressure emanates from those of us that actively strive to weave beauty and light into a world that is often full of challenges. There is so much holy work to be done and so many opportunities to make our voices count.

There is another side to my journey, perhaps a more important one. I am birthing the most authentic living soul I can be. I am ready to nurture that person as she becomes more grounded in what she truly believes. It is time to have my values and my dreams intersect in the healthiest of ways. I strive to walk consciously by caring for my body, my mind, and my soul. And as I do, my hope is that I will remember the larger world around me.

I have traveled some really rocky paths. I have stumbled, I have fallen, I have cried torrential downpours, but I have always continued to move forward. As a work in progress, my innermost prayer is that all previous journeys create someone worthy of making my next steps count.

May this trek weave together my desire to take care of the deepest part of me while intensely nurturing the world I live in, our world.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?”
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Father) 1:14

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(This blog was adapted from a blog I wrote for my work blog)

A new tradition has begun.  Each week, I will be sharing an environmental teaching to my students and then blogging about it for both work and then also on my personal blog.    My hope is to offer a bissel, a little, Torah and an insight on how to take the teaching home.

Teaching:

“It is not up to us to complete the task (of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:16

In order to make this world the best that it can be, we have to begin by doing our part wherever we can.  While each of us has a job to do, we can’t do it alone.  In order to make a difference, we have to work as a team with others.  Essentially that means that while you have to do your part to make the world stronger, healthier, better, you don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to complete the work you started.  Just take one step and begin the journey. Ultimately you will find if you are doing the work, others will join you.

When I asked our students how they would do their part to take care of the environment, I heard a lot of great answers.  I was touched by the engaging conversation and the fact that many wanted to respond.  Our students care.   I was especially touched by the children that said that they always ride their bike to school instead of taking the bus or a car.  I also loved that many children carry a bag with them to pick up trash when they are walking outdoors.

With that in mind, I began to reflect, how can I refine what I am already doing?  And I came up with some ways..  Walking or biking more would be good; I will start walking or biking to work one to two days a week if not more. I will cook from scratch more often; I am pretty good now, but I should do better. And finally, the boys and I will start turning off electronics for an hour or so each night so we can read together, cook together and walk Maddie, our dog, together.  The goal is to nourish our relationship while also using less energy.

Another idea is taking shape for my family on a personal level even though it was inspired by my new Religious School Initiative, Turning Trash into Treasure.  For school it is simple, turn trash into art projects and school supplies.  What could that same initiative mean to our home.  Well here are some ideas and I’d love a few more.

  • When you are done with a book or other household object, pass on or pay it forward.
  • Old plastic containers can be used to collect water from rain showers; the collected water can be used to water plants. Recycling costs in many ways; if you can use without recycling – yay!
  • If you have an old towel, wrap up your next gift box with the towels.
  • Old towels can be used as cleaning rags.
  • Compost – I need to finally start doing that!
  • Use what you have instead of wasting or ignoring it.

There are many other ideas that I am missing; I’d love to hear your ideas.

All of the ideas above help minimize your carbon footprint.   You can also do things,

  • buy local produce
  • shop close to home
  • grow your own produce
  • bike or walk as often as possible
  • limit how much trash you create
  • enjoy life from where you are

For more information about minimizing your carbon footprint; there are many links on the World Wide Web for you to explore what it means to consider your carbon footprint and how to calculate your carbon footprint.  Each of us can easily and sometime with challenge do so much more to help strengthen our environment.  All you have to do is take one step in order to make a difference.

One of my favorite songs is The Garden Song written by David Mallett song by many of my favorite folk artists:

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

This song reminds me that we are all on the journey of life; my hope is that most if not all of us take time to consider what little and large things we can do to make the environment healthier than it is.  All we have to do is take one step or many steps.  While you don’t have to complete the work yourself, living consciously and thoughtfully can ultimately make a difference for our world and repairing what ails her.

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