Graduation and Tiny Homes

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, May 24, 2019 / 19 Iyyar 5779

The schedule for this Sunday’s Tiny House build is 12-4 pm. Come volunteer!

Summary: Rabbi Kosak talks about Tichon graduation and some news on our Tiny Home Initiative.

This past Wednesday was our Tichon graduation. In today’s world of competing claims on teenagers’ attention, we can take pride that a group of stalwarts continued to learn and participate throughout their high school years. Listening to our 12th grader’s speeches is an annual highlight for me, especially since many of them grew up here. A few thoughts from some of our graduates:

One senior talked about how important it was to work as a madrikh with our six graders. That task was filled with joy and meaning and was a bright spot in their high school years.

Another spoke about how this was a community where they could have sophisticated discussions about values, something non-existent in their public school.

One of our graduates talked about Neveh Shalom was the first building after their home that they learned to navigated as a very small child.

For still another graduate, it was here that they felt secure enough to come out of their shell, use their voice and take risks.

Each of these snapshots is a reminder of the important work occurring within our walls. They also demonstrate the power that a spiritual home has to allow us to grow and transform.

Too many of our Portland neighbors, however, lack a spiritual home, and thousands of others lack any sort of secure home. As part of our efforts to address our city’s housing crisis, a second trailer is now located on the upper parking lot. During the summer, when our parking needs are less, you’ll see a bit more building occurring. In regard to that, teenagers who are looking for something to do should contact me. They can gain some valuable lifelong building skills and know that they are engaged in a powerful mitzvah. For those of us who don’t want to wait until the summer, this Sunday will be another day of work on the first Tiny Home.

A special thanks to two organizations. The first is Sherwin Williams. One of their reps came by to go over some of the synagogue needs with Kurt Rice, our facilities director. When the rep saw the Tiny Home banner on the Nepom gates, he volunteered to provide some paint and stain.

The other group that needs a very special thanks is the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation (OJCYF). For those unfamiliar with what OJCYF does, here’s some language from their website: “…a program designed to encourage a lifelong passion for Jewish philanthropy and social activism. Through OJCYF, students develop a deep understanding of the importance of nonprofits and their inner workings….Along the way, students learn valuable leadership skills, experience what it is like to be on a board…and develop a sense of responsibility in giving back to the community.” CNS was fortunate to receive two grants from these communally-minded teens. One of these was for our Tiny House Initiative. They very generously earmarked $4000 to our efforts to address our city’s housing crisis.

As a heads up, I’ll be heading out of town on Monday and will return to work on June 5th. So Oasis Songs will be on mute for a week.

Shabbat shalom,

Rav D

Shabbat Table Talk

  1. Which graduation ceremonies of your own do you recall?
  2. As an adult, what sort of graduation or transition have you been through that felt similar to a school graduation. What accounts for that?

If you’d like to continue this discussion, follow this link to CNS’s Facebook page to share your own perspectives on the topics raised in this week’s Oasis Songs. Comments will be moderated as necessary.

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