Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Florida

IMG_7000After a nearly missed connection, lost luggage, and finally found luggage delivered soaked in an entire bottle of Dr Bronner’s (thanks, TSA, for not closing my toiletries after your inspection!), I got to southern Florida to join the University of Rochester Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break. The U of R was chosen as one of nine schools to take part in Hillel National (USA)’s ASB pilot program. Two students were given leadership training and support in planning the trip, and Hillel subsidized the costs. (This week o’social action cost each student $150.)

IMG_7021The students chose to go to South Florida, to work with Centro Campesino, a non-profit, rural development organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life and self-sufficiency of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, their children and other low-income families of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. The work they signed on for was fixing up a home for migrant workers. In addition to their daily work, they had sessions with local organisations, including Centro Campesino, to learn about issues facing migrant workers.

IMG_7026One of the conditions for the project was that the students must receive a minimum of three sessions of Jewish education over the course of the week. That was my job: Jewish educator. In addition to working alongside the students, I gave lessons on Jewish perspectives relating to housing, workers, and living wages, mostly as text study and discussions. I also helped organise Shabbat – I was especially impressed with our SoFlo niggun, composed on the spot for Psalm 99. Amazing.

IMG_7016In addition to finishing the tasks we were given in the home, the group found time to explore a bit of South Florida. At Robert Is Here, we found tasty, locally grown fruits that we hadn’t had before, including mamey sapote (which looks like a giant, squishy sweet potato, and tastes like sweet potato pie), fruits that were so fresh they almost had a different flavour (mangoes, key limes, papayas, kiwis), and more. One of the taller guys was able to pick a coconut, which I opened for the group – the coconut water was tasty (though not as tasty as it is when chilled), and the flesh was delicious. Having finished the work ahead of schedule, we spent Friday afternoon at the infamous South Beach, a short walk from the “woo! Spring Break!” and gay sections. We went on walks through Everglade National Park and alligators and herons and the sunrise.

It was a great experience, and I’m really happy that U of R Hillel let me join them.

Now, New York!

[Photos are here.]

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Filed under: america, judaism, travels, work

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