Hey from the AJSS Staff in Kansas City
We are thrilled to be here with your fantastic teenagers. They are eager to work hard, contribute to the welcoming Kansas City community, make new friends, and grow Jewishly. We are slowly but surely adjusting to communal living and meals at Congregation Ohev Sholom, the ever constant heat and humidity, and early morning wakeup. We feel fortunate to meet so many hospitable locals, and appreciate our memberships which allow us daily showers, exercise, swimming, and free time at the luxurious JCC. It was a little surprising for the participants to see so many Jews in Kansas and Missouri! We are learning together how diverse Jewish communities can be. Last night we participated in an educational program connecting our service work to the texts of our tradition. As we sat in the tent-shaped sanctuary of Ohev Sholom, we remembered how our people’s Jewish journey began and then shared our own Jewish family histories.
Today was our first work day. We served at Heartland Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which is a warehouse store of gently used home supplies and appliances. It is a great way for Habitat to make some income and provide quality home supplies at an affordable rate. Today we sorted, organized, and cleaned – sinks, doors, tiles, window panes, tools, faucets, chandeliers – you name it, the ReStore has it and we sorted it! All of the people who will become homeowners through Habitat put in 350 hours of sweat equity labor. Today we worked with a refugee from Sudan who is putting in some of his hours at the ReStore; his home will be started this year. His determination to make a new home in Kansas City inspires us and reminds us of how grateful we are for our own homes and supportive communities. We ended this evening with a drive down to Kansas City’s beautiful Plaza area on the river, and surprise desserts at the original Winstead’s, a classic local diner from the 1940’s.
Tomorrow we’ll be dividing into groups to farm with Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, clean up a nature walk at Indian Creek Greenway Trail, and serve at Harvester’s, one of the largest food banks in the United States. We are working to keep everyone hydrated and open minded!
We’re off to a wonderful summer! Stay tuned,
Jess, Ezra, Eli, and Lillian