On Sunday evening, February 5th – Superbowl Sunday, no less!! – 35 of us gathered at Havurah for a Community Meeting, to discuss the role we envision Havurah playing in the days, weeks and months ahead. Ever since November 14th, when we discovered a swastika scrawled on Havurah’s front door, many were shocked into a heightened state of awareness that, even in our peaceful town of Middlebury, there exists the potential for division and hate. The outpouring of love and support was visceral and immediate: the following Saturday over a hundred people appeared at our Shabbat morning service, in a show of solidarity and strength. Cards and letters from around Vermont – and beyond – started pouring in and they are posted in our lobby.
A few weeks later, even more of our friends and neighbors gathered for a vigil on the Town Green, where we pledged to look out for each other, to stand up to acts of ignorance and hate, and to engage in concerted efforts to celebrate our commonalities, even while exploring the meaning of our differences.
All these experiences, thoughts and concerns were shared at Havurah’s February 5th Community Meeting. After expressing our concerns, we turned to our hopes – for the role Havurah can play in standing up for justice, in protecting those who experience adverse consequences of governmental policies, and in fostering conversations to bring us closer together.
Some of our initial – and still not yet wholly formed – ideas include reaching out to the Muslim community to offer support and strengthen connections; exploring ways to protect and safeguard the rights of migrant Mexican farm workers – and other immigrants – in Addison County; taking an active role in educating others about Judaism and its ethical precepts; and opening our Havurah community seder this year to friends and neighbors, to share stories of struggle and our mutual experiences of being the “other” – whether because of our immigrant status, or racial or cultural differences. We ended the meeting by committing to gather again soon, recognizing that, if we hope to realize any of these (and other) goals, we need a critical mass willing to step up and take active part, perhaps by forming a Social Action committee.
We are excited to announce our next gathering to continue this discussion, on Friday night, February 24th, 6:15p, for a potluck supper at Havurah. Although we’ll light Shabbat candles and sing over wine and challah, we will not hold a service. Instead, we’ll share great food and start formulating our priorities, goals, and strategies for how to achieve them. Please join us, and bring your friends.