Shana Tova, Happy New Year 5781. What a strange season it is.
The Sukkot festival begins this weekend. The holiday is celebrated by building a sukkah, a fragile three-sided structure with an open roof exposing the stars. It’s where families gather to eat meals and welcome friends. This year the poignancy of the sukkah is palpable to me.
Our family typically builds one in our backyard. This year we made a choice not to do so. “Life is too chaotic, too full of uncertainties, we said. “It might be too cold or it might rain-- we can’t eat meals and be with friends in our fragile sukkah.”
I was struck by the choice that I had between the comfort of my home or this fragile structure. I chose to not take the risk. I chose the comfort of my home. I am privileged to have this option.
Many families in our greater community don’t have the choice between comfort and risk. They are in risk every day. Roofs leak, ovens and refrigerators don’t work, electrical and plumbing systems fail and houses lack heat and air conditioning.
We have to ask ourselves, as Matthew Desmond did in his recent piece on the threat to our fair housing laws in the New York Times, “Who are we?”
He wrote, “Until white liberals strive to expand opportunity for all families and stop hoarding it for themselves—until they let go of the fantasy that inequality can be addressed without sharing—their denouncements of …race-baiting will ring hollow. A new occupant in the White House is not needed to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ in the suburbs and beyond. Progressive communities can take action now. Their consistent failure to do so raises the question of whether they really believe in expanding opportunity and promoting racial justice—or whether it’s all just talk and tweets.”
Yachad’s housing work is one response to that question, “Who are We?”
Yachad works tirelessly to see that people don’t live in fragile structures, but rather in a place where family and friends can gather for a meal, live, work and be together in the comfort of a healthy and functional home. So “Who are you? Join us. Share with us and we’ll work together towards the answer.
graphic design by Naomi Weintraub