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Weaving Community

03/08/2019 04:32:35 PM


Hannah Orden

I won’t say this week’s Torah portion is my favorite, but it does feature my favorite name for a Torah portion.  Va’yakhel is the verb form of the word kehillah, which means “community.”  I love that Hebrew has a verb for making community.


In an op-ed, David Brooks talks about social isolation as the core problem in our society.  He started traveling around the country looking for what he calls “Weavers” – people who are building community and “weaving the social fabric.”  Brooks writes: “When we stereotype, abuse, impugn motives and lie about each other, we’ve ripped the social fabric.  When we love across boundaries, listen patiently, see deeply and make someone feel known, we’ve woven the social fabric and reinforced generosity.”  English doesn’t have an exact translation for va’yakhel, but I thought maybe it is something like weaving. 
























Religious School children and their families and teachers applied the idea of weaving literally to trace their relationships and see how we're all joined together.



I think one of the strengths of CBH is that we strive to be Weavers.  When I see six-year-old Renly Cooper deep in conversation with 95-year-old Bob Max, that is weaving.  When people bring meals to someone who is sick or show up to comfort people who are grieving, that is weaving.  When someone who has never belonged to a synagogue before tells me how much our community has enriched her life, that is weaving.  When I see Stephanie Tran in the library with her two buddies from Fountain Baptist Church planning training for people from both communities to share stories, that is weaving.  I could go on and on. 


Judaism is very clear that “we” is more important than “I.”  Jews have always valued family and community and people over individual.  Whether you call it breaking down barriers or building bridges or loving across boundaries, I think we are talking about being Weavers.  


Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, step back, look around, ask yourself:  How can I be a Weaver?  How can I make connections and strengthen relationships?  How can I reach out across boundaries?  How can I weave the social fabric of this community and all the communities I am part of?  How can I put “we” before “me?”


Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780