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April 24, 2014 - Image 57

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-04-24

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spirituality >> Torah portion

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Parshat Kedoshim: Leviticus 19:1-
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High school students Rabbi Lader took on an alternate spring break in Belize

E

arlier this month, I chaper-
gling community brought them closer
oned a group of high school
to each other and that they felt blessed
seniors as they embarked on
to be able to do something so tangibly
an alternative spring break experience
positive for people in need.
in Belize.
Parshat Kedoshim focuses on the
We zip-lined through the rainforest
idea of holiness, teaching us that we
and climbed ancient Mayan
are each created in the
ruins. We hiked through
image of God. While holi-
natural caverns in pitch-
ness may seem like a lofty
black darkness and fed
concept, this text shows
monkeys out of our hands.
us that infusing our lives
We swam with stingrays,
with holiness is attain-
sharks and sea turtles, and
able through our everyday
took a dip in a crystal-blue
choices.
sinkhole lagoon in the
We are told not to steal,
jungle. It was an incredible
not to defraud our friends
trip filled with incredible
and neighbors, not to show
Ra bbi
adventures.
deference to the rich and to
Jen nifer
But the true highlight
judge
each other fairly. We
La der
of the trip was working to
are instructed to protect the
repair a rundown medi-
weakest members of our
cal clinic in a suburb of Belize City.
society, caring for those who may not
These teens spent hours in the hot
be able to care for themselves.
This group of teens from Detroit
sun fixing a leaky roof that was caus-
ing problems, and they scraped and
was living this text as they climbed
painted the inside and outside of the
and built and repaired together, serv-
building. They cleaned and swept and
ing God by actively doing good in the
edged and caulked. They planted trees
world.
for shade, fixed windows and gathered
We can infuse every day of our lives
trash.
with holiness by committing to reach
It was hard work, but they did an
out to others with care, love, kind-
amazing job and truly made a differ-
ness and compassion. Whether we are
performing acts of tikkun olam over-
ence in this community.
During Shabbat, a few of us were
seas, standing up for someone being
sitting and talking by the river. I asked
treated unfairly, volunteering our time
them why they chose to come on this
or money for an important cause or
trip, to spend the week doing for oth-
ensuring that we are just in our busi-
ers while so many of their friends were ness dealings, our daily choices reflect
having a more typical spring break in
our commitment to living as holy a life
Mexico or the Bahamas. They told me
as we can. ❑
that providing for others made them
Jennifer Lader is a rabbi at Temple Israel
value their own opportunities more
in West Bloomfield.
deeply, that working to help a strug-

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April 24 • 2014

57

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