The need to reach out to our community and express openness and welcome is not singular to our congregation. It seems that many around our community are feeling the need to organize events that send the message of welcome to those around us.
It is not surprising, given our current political climate, that we are all opening our arms to each other in order to say “You are loved, I value you, and you are welcome here.” We are always looking for ways to balance the scales in our lives. The heavy weight of hostility coming from our administration calls us to add weight to our own messages of welcome.
Our own Beit Sefer is using “Welcoming” as the theme of the school year. Students learned this previous Sunday how as a people, Jews have relied on other welcoming us in our Diaspora. Over the course of this school year, Beit Sefer students will study our relationship with immigrants and immigration, how to be welcoming with each other, and about how welcoming has been taught in our religious texts.
Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County is holding Welcoming Week this week. JFS’s website explains that this event is meant to emphasize that “being a welcoming community for all makes everyone stronger economically, socially, and culturally.” JFS has invited Ann Arbor businesses to advertise themselves as “Welcoming Businesses.” Shoppers can get discounts at some locations by showing an “I’m A Welcomer” packet when they shop. More information is available at JFSannarbor.org.
The Ann Arbor Jewish Sanctuary and Immigration Network has launched the “Butterfly Project: Migration is Beautiful, Never Again is Now.” This project aims to blanket the town with tiles and pictures that illustrate the beauty of migration, demonstrating to the immigration community through visual arts that they are welcome, wherever they are. If you would like to participate in this project, please contact AARC member Idelle Hammon-Sass at Hammond_sass@msn.com.
Our blog series focused on ways we can make everyone feel welcome in our congregation – how we as Reconstructionists can build upon our Jewish tradition to be more inclusive in our interactions with each other and our guests. Perhaps we can use the momentum from our very important work to take part in other acts of welcoming happening in our community! Do you know of any other welcoming efforts happening right now? Please share them in the comments!