Monday, July 3, 2017

Updates from the Board

This January, a new political reality set in.  In a series of meetings in January and February, the Board and the Tikkun Olam Committee had some uncharacteristically serious conversations.  At the core, the reason why Shalom Cascadia does the things we do is that it brings us great joy.  But what does "joy" feel like in these times?  Being Jewish in a time when anti-semitism is increasingly tolerated has become a radical act.  Others also face discrimination and other challenges just for being who they are - members of the Queer community, people of color, trans folks, immigrants. So many people we host at Shalom Cascadia belong to more than one of these identities.

What can we do? We've decided to focus on the core of our mission: Shelter and Sustenance, and Inclusion.

During our Passover Seder in April, we pledged to support sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation as part of the Sanctuary Movement, a campaign of faith organizations spearheaded by the Unitarian Universalists - for we once fled slavery and sought help in an unknown land.

Our Sukkot observances this fall will focus on raising awareness of houselessness in Cascadia. During this holiday of abundance, we as Jewish people "welcome the stranger" and offer food and hospitality to any who are in need. While we can't literally house more people, we hope to highlight the moral imperative to shelter all humans, and perhaps bring some spiritual energy into the conversation.

And we've renewed our commitment to hosting a small Kiddish every Friday at 6, open to members, friends, guests, and the curious - bread for all as we welcome Shabbat.

As for the Airbnb rooms, which so amazingly provide us both with guests to host and enjoy and with funding to subsidize our programming, we have decided to offer a small discount to those folks who may have a harder time finding an inclusive and joyous place to stay. Much has been written in the last year about discrimination on Airbnb, such as this article in Quartz, and we have certainly noticed in our years of hosting that we have had a disproportionate number of Queer, Trans, and POC guests.  Stories of people having their reservation requests denied, or worse, canceled for no apparent reason, have spurred us to offer support this group of guests (and their allies of course!). Whatever their identity, we have truly been blessed to host the kindest and most considerate humans, and we are glad to be able to give back in a small way.

It seems that so much has changed in the last year, and so quickly. We find ourselves fighting for rights that we thought we could take for granted, or maybe didn't even think too much about at all. For our progressive congregation, our way of dealing with the shifting political winds is to get back to basics. Food, shelter, and spiritual connection, open and accessible to all.