It’s been a while since I’ve titled a blog post ‘The Meaning of Mitzvah.’
The first one went back to delivering meals on Thanksgiving. After that, I wrote about doing some Habitat for Humanity work in New Orleans.
My family and I like to take advantage of opportunities for mitzvot, those sacred commandments that help repair our world. Some of them feel significantly more momentous than others and this one felt really big.
Today, I had the honor of helping represent Temple Beth Israel at the groundbreaking of the next Eco Shelter at the Dakota Eco Garden. Members of our congregation contributed to funding the next shelter and today we broke ground. Special thanks to Andrea De Zubiria and Lise Rosenthal who brought this opportunity to us.
Nancy Waidtlow purchased the property on Dakota Ave. and renowned architect Arthur Dyson is designing the shelters. The newest shelter further evolves his design which maximizes efficiency, relying on the sun for both heating and cooling. I did research in college on passive solar design and believe strongly in the ideal of conserving our resources through efficient construction. So, it’s especially rewarding to be involved in this project which could serve as a model for similar villages in Fresno and beyond.
This is a great example of why I became a rabbi.
My role in this endeavor was relatively easy. The members of our Social Action Committee championed the cause. The board, staff, residents and additional volunteers of the Eco Village did the greatest share of work. I helped talk up the project and quite a few members of Temple Beth Israel contributed to the cause.
Not only do I plan to continue lending our efforts to the Dakota Eco Village but I hope the project will evolve into more sites throughout our city. We will continue to collect funds for the ongoing work of building the Eco Villages, helping provide for the needs of the residents and assisting in their efforts to make the transition from homeless through the transition of the Eco Village into more permanent housing.
...and to my friends in other local faith communities and service organizations... the challenge is on! The Unitarian Church began the funding for the first shelter. Temple Beth Israel raised the funds for the second shelter... more shelters need to be funded. Who will be next to fund one?