|Each night of Chanukah you will receive a blessing from a fellow alum straight to your inbox. These 8 blessings will serve as reminders of the kind of analysis you did during your Corps year, and the types of reflections you have continued to do on your journeys as Jewish agents for social change. Happy Chanukah! |
Chanukah and AVODAH: Opportunities for Reflection on Identity
I have a book of reflections from Jews around the world from different backgrounds who share what being Jewish means to them. One of my favorite pieces is by Liz Lerman, who founded a dance organization in Washington, D.C. She writes, "I am Jewish because my mother was Jewish. I inherited her restlessness abut God, women, and empty prayers. But my father was an ecstatic Jew whose every step- whether organizing against segregation or teaching Hebrew school kids about the evils of real estate speculation- declared his commitment to making the world a better place. "This is what it means to be Jewish," he told me over and over."
I think this is so relevant to what the Avodah year is all about. Set aside the author's opinion of prayer and spirituality if possible; for me the most important part of Avodah was that it gave a space for me and my fellow corps members to examine and reflect on our own identities- what it means to be Jewish, how our spiritual and/or religious identity overlaps and relates to our dedication to improving people's lives and commitment to social action as Jews.
As Chanukah approaches, I hope you have the time and space to renew your spiritual and physical selves and are able to continue to work for those who are suffering in our communities.
Ben Fogel (CHI 08-09) from Grand Rapids, MI graduated from Michigan State University and was placed at the Supportive Housing Providers Association during Avodah. Ben is now a licensed social worker and currently works as a counselor at the Alzheimer's Association. He works with patients and families affected by the disease, focusing on care planning, emotional support and crisis management.