In helfman

This is my third day out of five, eating a measly $1.75 in food per day. Coincidently, this is my third day in a row wandering the building and ‘accidently’ finding myself tempted by the food set out for all comers to our community’s daily morning minyan.  I am getting hungry just typing each of the items on the table – hot coffee, freshly baked bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon.  To spread some luscious shmear on top of the fluffy, perfectly baked carbohydrate.  And then bask in the salty rush of smoked fish…  Sigh.

As the festival of Shavuot approaches, I put aside thoughts of smoke salmon.  Instead my mind wanders to the book of Ruth… and (as it has often for these past few days) to food.  The hunger I am feeling now must not be unlike that of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  They were able to survive only because of the leftovers dropped in the field by Boaz’s workers.  It wasn’t that these workers had left the corners of the fields ungleaned because of an oversight.  They did not leave the sheaves they dropped because they were too lazy to bend over and pick them up.  Rather, they were Jews who obeyed the commandments of their God to leave portions of their hard earned intake for those in need.

We read this story on Shavuot in part because of these agricultural ties – when the first fruits were brought to the Temple to acknowledge our past insecurity and our current stability.

The Shabbat before Shavuot we will show our reference to these laws by honouring our Confirmands, our Grade 10 students who have reached a place in their lives where they are confident they were at Sinai at the original Kabbalat Torah on Shavuot.  And on the morning of Shavuot, we give this ‘first fruits of the season’ metaphor meaning by bringing forward all of the new babies so we can celebrate these wonderful gifts. (Mollie Zahava Helfman will be there!)

Leading up to Shavuot, let us be aware of how our people have been displaced by food insecurity in the past, and how far removed our community’s daily lox and bagels are from that reality.  Join us for tomorrow night’s Dine Below the Line dinner (of your $18 admittance fee we promise that only $0.60 will be spent on the food you consume).  And feel free to support Rabbi Splansky’s Live Below the Line page here.

The remainder of the donation will be used by Ve’ahavta to support projects such as:

The Ve’ahavta Street Academy: a free, adult education program, that offers marginalized individuals with lived experience of homelessness the necessary tools and support to pursue further educational programs, find gainful employment and restore their lives;

Bri’ut: a long-term, community driven, Jewish-Aboriginal health promotion program which aims to improve health and well-being in the lives of Northern Ontario Aboriginal populations.

Project MUSO: a Mali initiative that works to eliminate preventable disease and reduce child mortality rates by empowering local women to deliver high quality, lifesaving services to their local community;

I hope to have the courage to try this again next year.  If you are looking for me these next two days, you may be able to find me staring at bagels in the Enkin Boardroom.

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  • Elaine Givertz

    A hearty Mazel Tov for your effort to eat on such a limited budget to help you to better understand how it is for some people. I look forward to hearing what insights you gained from this experience.

  • Ann Rosenfield

    Thanks, Rabbi. I’m finding that on my $1.75/day I feel intensely grateful for the food I have much more than I feel deprived for what I don’t.
    (although I wouldn’t turn down a Diet Coke right now – only human here)

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