Updated: Mar 17, 2019
Today we had the privilege of beginning our day working with a different organization called Green Light New Orleans. Their mission is to demonstrate that a mass movement of individual actions creates a significant impact on our environment and community. They do this by installing energy efficient lightbulbs, rain barrels, and vegetable gardens in the homes of community members. We learned a little bit about the organization and how it helps the community as well as preparing rain barrels to be painted and installed.
For Shabbat we attended a service at Touro Synagogue which is the 6th oldest synagogue in the country. Both the service and the sanctuary were absolutely beautiful. We happened to be there the night the sanctuary was being rededicated and we were able to see what a strong Jewish community looks like in a different city. Afterwards we were treated to a delicious dinner at the synagogue where some of us were able to talk to congregants about our week and learn things about the synagogue and the community.
This is my third year participating in this alternative spring break trip and I can honestly say I have never had such an amazing experience. This was the first time in a long time where I felt a connection with Judaism as a religion. Sitting through the Shabbat service made me want to find time to go to Hillel for more Shabbat services and try to get back into my religion. I’m so sad that this is the last time I will be able to participate in this trip, but I’m very happy with the memories I have gained and the things I have been able to experience.
I feel very confident and glad that I chose to go on this alternative service spring break trip. I have personally learned things about my self as well as questions pertaining to social issues that affect residents of New Orleans. For one, New Orleans, a football field of swamp land is lost every hour; we were able to visit a once healthy and thriving swamp biome, but due to excessive flooding of salt water was mixed into the fresh water which resulted in the destruction of the greenery. It’s equally eye opening to see all the lots that once used to host families no longer occupied after hurricane Katrina due to a multitude of factors.
On Friday we were able to learn more about Green Light, a company that is focused on reducing our global footprint by originally supplying lightbulbs to families in need, but has now branched off to rain barrels as well as gardens. By installing energy efficient lightbulbs into families homes there is a causation in a reduce of co2 emissions. The rain barrels help to supply families with rain water, which delays the amount of water going in the ground; a major issue in New Orleans is that the ground is super saturated from rain water and thus there is erosion of the ground supporting the city on a massive scale. And lastly, the gardens help to absorb rain water as well as supply a green way for families to grow their own produce.
Not only were we able to have a direct effect in helping a family by building them a ramp and redoing the siding of their home, but we were also able to interact with the resources built/created to help reverse the natural and man made issues that most certainly affect the residents of New Orleans. Because of this trip I feel that I personally have a duty to serve more for my community and be an active citizen, rather than relying on others to get the job done.
To wrap things up, we visited the Touro Synagogue for the weekly Shabbat service. To clarify I’m not Jewish and went into the Temple with an extremely open mind. I discovered the service to be very pure and beautiful and was thankful to receive a feast afterwards; the baklava was to die for. I even attempted to join in with the songs, but quickly discovered Hebrew is remarkably difficult. Overall, I’m very happy with myself for going on this trip, forging new friendships, giving my services to the city, and also learning a thing or two about the social and environmental issue affecting the city. Thank you.
- Kahlil Dover