by Sarah Lipinsky
Nonstop laughter as we rode the bus, the constant reminders to lower the intense volume from chatty voices, and the endless question-asking of twelve eighth graders, made for four amazing, 16-hour days—and I would do it all again in an instant.
This past weekend the 8th graders from DeReKH visited New Orleans for a social action trip. Our main focuses were on gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) and successfully integrating our Shearith teens with their new friends from DeReKH.
On day one, we volunteered at Lower 9th Resilient. That afternoon everything the DeReKH leadership team had hoped for fell in place. Naturally. All the teens bonded, talked, and helped one another as we gardened together in the Lower 9th Ward.
Spending Shabbat together in New Orleans was incredibly memorable. The teens led Shabbat services, and two of the teens, one from Anshai and one from Shearith, led Shabbat shacharit in unison.
We studied tzedakah versus gemilut hasadim and learned why acts of kindness are greater than giving tzedakah money. We learned about diversity, economic disadvantages, and poverty in New Orleans where the division of rich and poor is uncomfortably clear. Then we discussed the realities of Dallas’ financial divide. Most of us spend our time between the tollway and Coit Rd, but on the outskirts of this bubble almost 25% of Dallas residents live below the poverty line.
Studying and working together blended and strengthened our DeReKH students. Getting to witness this was the highlight of the trip. I learned how bringing together Shearith, Anshai, and Beth Torah for a joint high school program made DeReKH a truly great program. We not only provide the teens of these three communities with the best religious school education in town, but we create an ideal, holistic experience for all conservative teens across DFW.
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share