Saturday, October 7, 2017
Dear Family and Friends:
If you've been reading these blurbs you might remember that I used to volunteer at our local homeless shelter, the Shalom Center. It's not a Jewish outfit. The folks that started the shelter liked the word "Shalom," so they used it. So for five years, once a week I communed with their old Hobart dishwasher (you GUCIites will relate). If someone would have taken a snapshot of me at my post it might have been titled, "Two Old Dishwashers." But as the adult Hebrew program that I started grew to four classes and as additional responsibilities at Hillel arose, I decided to "retire" from the Shalom Center. That was last June.
At our Rosh HaShanah, Jewish new year service I had the opportunity to speak to about four hundred college students. It is an awesome responsibility when you come to think of it. You have ten minutes to say whatever you want to hundreds of young adults. In my opinion it is a one shot deal to try and be meaningful and inspirational and it comes and goes in a blink. Well this year, among other things I talked about how we might react to the negatives and even horrors occurring in our world. One reaction could be simply throwing up one's hands and thinking, "what can I do, I'm just one person?" The situations we face are overwhelming. I'm talking hurricanes, flooding, mass shootings, etc. etc. What can any one person do?
I suggested that we could each take a look at our own little corners of the world and devote ourselves to doing something...some small thing to make it better. Help a friend. Be a friend to one who doesn't have friends. Become a mentor. Volunteer a bit of time...Whatever. Do a little something. If each of us did so, I'm sure this would Tikkun our Olam; make our world a better place.
Last week I read in our local paper about an Indiana man who, at eighty years of age, has dedicated himself to building water pumps in his garage. He packs the pumps into suitcases and flies them down to Guyana in South America and installs them in the shacks of the locals there. He has installed over 800 pumps. What a great undertaking. Most would say that an eighty year old should be sitting on his porch falling asleep while reading old Ed McBain mysteries. But this old Hoosier isn't buying any of that. He's building pumps in his garage and bringing drinking water to hundreds of people. He's doing a whole lot of good. What an inspiration.
I remarked to my wife, Juca, "Here's a fellow doing so much, and I'm reluctant to give two hours a week to the Shalom Center because I have an extra Hebrew class?" Doesn't make much sense.
Today I returned to my post at the Hobart at the Center. I'll be washing dishes in my little corner of the world... and thinking about water pumps in Guyana.
That's the way I see it.