Monday, October 02, 2006

Peanuts for Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, or the day of atonement. It is traditional for Jews to go to temple on this day, to fast, to pray and to reflect upon their actions. We are supposed to literally contemplate our own fate. I've never been completely comfortable with this holiday which I suppose is appropriate. It is a day to be uncomfortable.

There is a story about Yom Kippur that I like very much. It's a Polish story about a rabbi who disappears on Yom Kippur and when someone follows him to see where he goes, it is not to "heaven" but into the forest to chop wood for a sick old woman. In effect, he goes "even higher" than heaven, because in Judaism the best thing you can do is a "mitzvah" or good deed.

And so today seems like the perfect day to do a good deed. Instead of fasting, or spending the day in temple, I went to the San Francisco Food Bank. I volunteered with a handful of others, packaging up peanuts to be distributed to people in my own community who do not get enough to eat. How ironic, "peanuts" a metaphor for an insignificant amount. But in this case, possibly a lifesaver.

Who are these people who end up with "peanuts"? Many of them are seniors on a fixed income who must decide between groceries and medicine, families struggling to keep everyone clothed, fed and under one roof, and the working poor.

This year, I want to share with you my commitment to do more to alleviate hunger. Because I do get enough to eat and it's just too easy to forget about those who don't.

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