Project Home staff, Sara Liegl (left) and Divine Baker (right) with The Beloved church’s pastor, Shawn Moore (center) at Project Home move-in day.
By Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director
I am writing this piece on my last day of work before Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the part of the Jewish holidays known as the Days of Awe, a ten-day period of serious introspection in which we consider the sins we have committed in the past year—both sins that we committed as individuals and sins that we committed as a larger community. We repent, and we attempt to mend broken relationships or breaches in relationships before Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, the last of the ten days, we fast as we pray—we have no food or water for a period of slightly more than 24 hours.
Although no food passes our lips on Yom Kippur, we go grocery shopping for the holiday. But we don’t shop for ourselves, we shop for the food shelf donations that we will make on the way into synagogue for the evening start of the holiday. The front of our synagogue is piled high with Second Harvest donation bins as we take our last sip of water and begin our fast.
The point of our fast is not to deprive ourselves—it is to focus, to pray, and to mend what is broken, both in our own lives and in our society. Isaiah 58:6 says “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loosen the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?”
This morning I had the great privilege of being at The Beloved church in Saint Paul as Project Home moved into this house of worship for the first time. Project Home needed a host community for October, and when we asked Pastor Shawn Moore of The Beloved, he said, “of course.” I was privileged to be there as our staff and moving crew were bringing in the beds, linens, toys, and more. Everyone was abuzz figuring out where each thing would go, how we would make this work—but nobody considered even for a moment whether it would work.
The attitude that undergirds Project Home and The Beloved’s welcoming of Project Home—the “of course”—is just the right kind of energy for me to be holding onto as I enter the holidays. Each of us engages in religious reflection and prayer in our own distinct tradition. I hope that my reflection and prayer during these Days of Awe and my Yom Kippur fast strengthen my resolve to keep saying “of course” in this work.
Randi Ilyse Roth