Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Peaceful Home

by Susan Weinberg

The lab gathered in a cross-generational session with the 7th grade class of the Heilicher Day School.  The lab artists began to arrive first and filled in a portion of the room. Soon the students arrived and gathered at the other end of the room. Liba Zweigbaum Herman, our facilitator, invited us to introduce ourselves, each person sharing some ways that they liked to create. She then introduced the concept of Shalom Bayit, literally peace in the home. 

“What else could this mean beyond that basic definition,” she asked. 

"A Shalom Bayit can be an artists’ lab, a class, a Jewish community," we replied." It can be a sacred space, even our planet." 

“What can we do if our bayit has turbulence, is in need of healing?” Liba asked. “What do we need to create a healthy bayit? How do we create peace within a community?"

It was suggested that we each have to be comfortable with self, before we can expand our home to encompass others.  That includes meeting our core physical needs. I thought of those oxygen masks dropping in planes. “Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others,” we are told. 

With that mask firmly in place we can begin to reach out to others. A healthy self makes for a healthy relationship to others. It was suggested that fear stands in the way so we need to approach others with compassion. 

Liba gave each of us a piece of paper and asked that we write down the most urgent issue in climate change. 

“Crumple it up and throw it,” she urged.

 We rose from our seats and soon students and artists began to mingle as papers flew overhead. We each gathered a crumpled package  as they settled to the floor. We began to share what was written on our “crumble.”

Gathering in groups of four, two artists, two students, we began our discussion by unwrapping our crumpled papers.  Plastic, agreement on climate change and effluence were the thoughts within. 

“Was that effluence or affluence?” we debated.  

The students  chimed in with effluence meaning the flow of sewage, but we also discussed how affluence and economic-driven decisions could contribute to damage to our climate, fostering deforestation and destruction of habitats. The artists had brought articles on the theme of global warming adding some additional threads for discussion.

The latter half of our session was focused on creating an art piece that spoke to the themes we had surfaced. Here are just a few of the creations.

Liba closed with a moving reading from Greta Thunberg as we discussed how to listen well to young people who are attuned to this issue as it is the world in which they will live. Having shared a group with two very astute students, we felt hopeful that the world will someday be in their hands.