More Than Houses
Synagogue, church volunteers build relationships along with new homes
in Detroit for Habitat for Humanity.
he designers of Israel had a phrase,
"to build the land and to be built
by it," says Rabbi Adam Chalom
of Birmingham Temple.
He likens this idea — that building some-
thing concrete can build the spirit — to his
experience of joining 18 members of his syna-
gogue to work with Habitat for Humanity in
On Aug. 17, the temple's volunteers painted
new walls, pulled fence posts and cleared old
concrete, as part of building a new house for a
needy family. But they built more than a
foundation for a house. Working alongside
African American Detroiters, they also were
Millard and Linda Fuller of Americus, Ga., founded Habitat for
Humanity International in 1976, but it became famous when former
Rabbi Adam Chalom
battles weeds with three
President Jimmy Carter became a volunteer eight
years later. It's an organization with a knack for
drawing together people who want the hands-on
experience of taking a stab at homelessness in the
United States. Call it good deeds or a mitzvah, the
diverse groups that work together on building a
house are united for a worthy purpose.
On Aug. 22, teenagers from local synagogues
and churches painted, sanded and shlepped steel
beams as part of their day volunteering for
Habitat for Humanity Detroit. Sponsoring the
group were four suburban rabbis and six urban
ministers who had traveled together for 10 days
last March to Senegal, West Africa, and Israel.
The friendships forged on their trip are now
being passed down to teens from the respective
congregations. A first step is getting beyond the
"They're a lot cooler than I expected," says Damen Taylor, 16, of
Detroit about his suburban counterparts.
His minister, the Rev. Kenneth J. Flowers of Greater New Mount