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Homeless In Our Hometown -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 11/10/22

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

November 8, 2022

16 Cheshvan 5783

Parashat Lech-Lecha

“Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance to greet them...(Genesis 18:2).” Abraham didn’t know who they were. He didn’t know where they were going. He just knew he couldn’t let them pass by without offering them some hospitality. Abraham and his wife Sarah offered their guests water to wash their feet, shade from the hot desert sun, cakes, meat, and cream. Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality is held up as the model toward which we should all strive. It ought to be simple, but we know it’s not always that way. Here, in the city of Summit, we have more than three men who are in need of hospitality. We’re not exactly sure how many, but there are at least 20 people who sleep in Summit’s train station and bus stops. The problem was recently exacerbated when a local boarding house closed its doors permanently. There’s no other place nearby where the former residents of that boarding house can live for same amount of rent that they had been paying. In addition, some of them have jobs in Summit and they can’t afford transportation if they move too far away. And now, winter is coming. On our local Facebook page, I counted at least four conversations in recent months about this problem. Some of my fellow residents were sincerely asking how to help their fellow human beings who are currently experiencing homelessness. Some of my fellow residents just don’t like having to see homeless people when they are commuting. Regardless of their motivation, most people don’t know what to do to help. The truth is that we have an organization here in town that was created specifically to help shelter these people, especially when the weather gets cold. It’s called Summit Warm Hearts, and it was established by the Summit Interfaith Council in 2017 to help our fellow human beings get off the street (you can read more here). But, it costs approximately $2,500 a week to shelter these people. I’m not asking anyone to be Abraham or Sarah. No one person (or couple) should feel as if they have to run toward these people, bring them into their own homes, and provide food from their own kitchens. However, if we all contribute a little toward Summit Warm Hearts (click here), then maybe no one would have to do that. So, as the temperatures dip and the heat kicks on in your home, please consider sharing some of your warmth with your neighbors who currently experiencing homelessness. Shalom, RAF.

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