By Kate Thomas, Mitzvah Corps Pacific Northwest 2018 Team Leader
This week, Mitzvah Corps Pacific Northwest explored a new city together! We got to know each other while walking along the waterfront, picnicking in the Olympic Sculpture Park, making memories at the Seattle Center, and discovering new shops and foods in the International District and Capital Hill. We toured the beautiful campus at University of Washington, visited the Wing Luke Museum and Jewish Family Services, and most importantly, found our Jewish social justice “roots” through engaging programming with Jewish texts and immigrant narratives.
As we wrap up a week of community building and look ahead to next week, we think about how our community will be expanding to include the International Rescue Committee summer camp staff and children.
In this week’s Torah portion, Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2 – 36:13), God commands the Israelites to construct arei miklat, sanctuary cities, to protect people from violence. These cities are meant for a specific group of people: those who had killed other people, unintentionally. While those we will be working with at the IRC are innocent children, they too are people in immediate danger seeking refuge like those in this week’s parashah.
As we celebrate our first Shabbat together, we reflect on the newness the refugees felt when first stepping foot in Seattle, fleeing conflict in their home countries. With incredible thoughtfulness, empathy, and a drive for justice, MCPNW is ready to jump into this important work with the IRC in week 2!