By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Each month we receive the Catholic Agitator, the newspaper from The Catholic Worker, an organization started by Dorothy Day. The main articles always deal with some principle of being loyal to God or, in my words, Being on God's Side. This month was about the 50th anniversary of L'Arche, a community in France dedicated to helping people with disabilities.
What stands out in this interview is the power of community. We use this word community in many ways yet, in this article, community is defined, as I understand it, as loving the wounded and broken. People with disabilities are treated a s humans, not as disabled. This is not to say that their disabilities are not recognized, it is that people are not defined by their disabilities. Rather they are human beings whom are broke and wounded.
This got me thinking about the idea of community and how are we using the word/concept. I agree with L'Arche, community has to be rooted in love for the wounded and broken in all of us. The interviewee speaks about individualism as the opposite of community. While I understand his thinking, individualism has come to me power, conquering, arrogance, etc., yet I think the beauty of community is to come together as individuals whom are broken and use each other's strengths to build love, interior strength, exterior strength and help each other. I have seen us build communities around strengths rather than weaknesses. I have seen us build communities around hatred/being against something rather than around love, brokenness and standing for something. This is where and when we bastardize the concept of community.
Each Religious/Spiritual community was/is based on love and building a large enough tent for wounded, broken people and loving the one with disability and the wounded and broken in each of us. We have lost this cornerstone of community! In the Jewish Tradition, I paraphrase, we say that the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of us! We have lost this belief, even though we say this every time we recite The Hallel prayer, on Holidays and on the New Moon! What has happened?
I believe that we have become afraid of our brokenness and woundedness! Because society has determined that power and "having it all together" is the only measure of success, we reject the cornerstone of real community, brokenness, love and woundedness. We have to return, do TShuvah! We have to remember that all of us are broken and we all need help. We have to remember that all of us feel unloved at times and need to be in loving community. We need to remember that all of us are wounded and need healing. We have to stop LIVING IN SHAME and embrace our imperfections and the imperfections of others.
We have to follow the examples of Jewish World Watch and it's co-founder, Rabbi Harold Shulweis. We have to reach out to the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the poor among us and within us. Rabbi Shulweis live these principle; Rabbi Shulweis teaches all of us the importance and the practical ways of doing this. Rabbi Shulweis is the Cornerstone of Community in the truest meaning of the concept.
Beit T’Shuvah emulates Rabbi Shulweis, he is our teacher and our guide. While he is not the Number 1 Rabbi on any list, he is the NUMBER 1LEADER for Community, responsible living and caring for the broken and wounded in and out of our faith as well as helping all of us see the wounds and brokenness inside of us. Rabbi Shulweis is the Gadol, the leader, of Jewish thinking, acting and living of our generation.
Because of Rabbi Harold Shulweis, the broken, the wounded have learned that THEY BELONG! We all belong to and with him and each other. Rabbi Shulweis is one of the people who have taught me how to be addicted to redemption, mine and yours. Please join me in being one of Rabbi Shulweis' followers and together, we will repair the world!