Last night, while watching an excerpt from a skid row documentary, a question was posed about homelessness – what can I do? The video listed off a bunch of possibilities, but ended with this idea- “invest in the collective consciousness that says compassion is essential.”
After one night with our whole group together, it feels like this is a group that understands what that means. Compassion towards the homeless is evident from the conversations I overheard during our peulah, where many different chanichim expressed a wide variety of emotions – guilt, shame, hope, confusion, discomfort, the list goes on. What was clear though, was that while our emotiaonal attitude towards the homeless is complex, we’re willing and ready to be challenged by the issue.
Whether it be personal anecdotes about a homeless person throwing a bagel when they had asked for money, or sharing passionate views about systemic issues that plague the impoverished in this country, the chanichim have shown up ready to grapple with their “priorities” and “perspectives” – two words that came up a lot, in an attempt to do something to help the homeless.
Our conversations about the homeless community in L.A. weren’t the first example of compassion though, that would have to be the hour plus of ice-breakers we did. In that time, compassion could be seen in how old friends rejoiced in being reunited, and in how new friendships have already started to to form.
Compassion may or may not be essential, but either way it’s something this group has plenty of.
~ Alex Zaremba
Alex is from Los Angeles, by way of Philadelphia Pennsyvania and is currently the Young Judaea Coordinator for Year Round Young Judaea in Los Angeles and a staff member at Tel Yehudah. He was on Year Course in 07-08.