From the Hoya: “Bosco: Unite in Celebration of Differences”

“The Spirit always draws out this tension. There is a latent desire in each of us to reduce that which is foreign into simple categories, so that we can justify our differences — well, he’s Muslim, she’s Jewish, we are Republicans, they are Democrats, this professor is conservative and that one is liberal. However, God’s Spirit elicits an even deeper desire out of us: It is a desire to dissolve distinctions, to embrace that which we are not, to celebrate the similarity of our lives amid our dissimilarity. Our Catholic and Jesuit heritage helps us celebrate the differences and the complexities in each of us, while maintaining sight of our common humanity.”

-Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J.

Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J., is the new Vice President for Mission & Ministry at Georgetown University. As This Jesuit Sees It appears online every other Thursday. Continue to read this featured article from The Hoya on their website.

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Living out our Jesuit Values: A Series

At the start of this semester, our chaplains gathered together to speak to the Class of 2021 about the University’s Jesuit values and how they shape life at Georgetown. Over the next five weeks, we will be posting a series of blog articles to remind our community of how these values come to life and to encourage us as members of the Georgetown community to live for others. Each article will focus on a specific value and will feature the insights of our Chaplains given at this year’s NSO Jesuit values panel. Please follow us through this series as we examine the wisdom behind these statements.

This week, the series begins with Fr. Greg Schenden’s reflection on Cura Personalis: Care of the Whole Person. He began his reflection by emphasizing that these values are by no means uniquely Jesuit or even Catholic, but applicable to all people as a guide to living better lives. “Cura Personalis” he said, “means that there is more to you than just your intellect. It is also about who you are and what drives you, and you must know this to be able to care for your whole person.”

He then expanded this idea of personal care to the body of the community saying that Cura Personalis also means we must welcome and care for one hundred percent of every member of our community, leaving no one out. Pointing to the other chaplains on the stage he said “We have all of these chaplains precisely because we are Jesuit… all will be welcome.”

Listen to the rest of Fr. Greg’s comments as well as the entire panel discussion:

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From the Hoya: “Schenden: Life as Pilgrimage”

“I was asked while on the Loyola retreat whether it was necessary to travel abroad in order to experience life as pilgrimage. While physical travel surely provides opportunity for the transformative experience of life as pilgrimage, St. Ignatius recognizes that each day of our lives — from the thrilling to the mundane, from the joyous to the difficult — is necessarily part of our individual pilgrimages. Pilgrimage becomes a mindset from which to approach one’s life and experiences. As we begin this academic year, we should seek to actively acknowledge the pilgrimage we are embarking upon and to embody the Ignatian principles that are                                                                                              fundamental to this journey.”

-Fr. Greg Schenden, S.J.

Fr. Gregory Schenden, S.J., is the Catholic chaplain at Georgetown University. As This Jesuit Sees It appears online every other Thursday. Continue to read this featured article from The Hoya on their website.

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Walls and Inscriptions

Allen Easterling ’19, Paige Harouse ’19, Maddie Vagadori ’19, and Megan Yeager ’19 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Paige Harouse, a Theology and Arabic double major and student worker for the Office of Campus Ministry, is spending her junior year in Amman, Jordan and Jerusalem, Israel. In addition to writing about her experiences abroad for the Campus Ministry blog, she writes for her own blog and for the Junior Year Abroad Network through the Berkley Center at Georgetown.

Boundaries such as walls, borders, and barriers play a critical role in Jewish history, custom, and tradition.  Some exist in the form of halakhah, or Jewish law.  Halakhic boundaries continue to unite and divide Jewry on issues as diverse as Shabbat observance to the question of “Who is a Jew?”  More boundaries, or, rather fences, exist within a specific interpretation of Jewish law and customs.  “To build a fence around the Torah,” is a statement that refers to those who go above and beyond to protect the observance of mitzvot, the laws and customs required of halachically observant Jews.  While halakhic boundaries can be both tangible and intangible, other boundaries are more clearly delineated.  The immigration quotas that resulted in unnecessary Jewish deaths in the 20th century are an example of this.  The freedom of travel, of immigration, and of residency can be linked back to the Exodus from Egypt, or, alternatively, the Babylonian exile.  These instances are special instances of boundary, when Jewishness defined where Jews could, and could not, settle.  Medieval instances come to mind, with the Venetian Ghetto serving as the classic example.  Of course, defining Jewish land and non-Jewish land wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I encountered the walls from the last one as I set out from Amman, Jordan, where I am currently studying, to Jerusalem, a few weeks ago.  The cities are a mere 43 miles apart, yet crossing between the two involves taxing to the Jordanian border, then bussing over the trickle of the Jordan River into the Israeli transit terminal, going through Israeli customs, before finally taxing through the West Bank into Jerusalem.  As an American passport holder of Ashkenazi descent, I encountered minimal problems and emerged in Jerusalem some 6 hours after leaving Amman.

Inspired by the month of Elul, a time of reflection and repentance before the High Holiday days, I made it a point to head to the Kotel, or Western Wall.  Tradition brought me there just as much as memory.  I wanted time to reflect.  In the past year, I have seen the Georgetown Jewish community exhibit strength and unity against acts of anti-Semitism while remaining committed to each other and to tradition.  I have seen Georgetown students selflessly support their peers in times of need and distress.  Yet I have also seen friends come together to rejoice for holidays.  Every time I see such acts of defiance, of existence, I’m awed by our resiliency, our commitment to others, and our commitment to life.

So I approached the Wall with these thoughts on my mind.  I went for myself, but I went as a proud member of community that refuses to be silent and continues to act out of interest for others, rather than themselves.  I went to pray for a friend suffering the loss of a parent. I went to give thanks for having been born into a country founded upon religious freedom and plurality.  I went to mark the arrival of a new year, in addition to the beginning of my year abroad.  I stood there, lost in thought, lost in prayer, one hand resisting on the worn limestone.  Eventually I wedged a piece of paper within the cracks before I walked backwards, away from it.  Once I reached a good distance away, I turned around to walk forward into the New Year full of growth, trials, and opportunities.

The Old City, Jerusalem

Since then, the Unetanah Tokef, a key prayer from the High Holiday liturgy, has been stuck in my head.  “He who inscribes and seals,” it goes, and I think of the inscriptions in Makom that invite students to interact with Hillel’s legacy.  I think of the chalking my peers have done in Red Square, to show that we are proud and not going anywhere.  I think of the number of bias-related emails I’ve received this school year.  “Remembering all that is forgotten.” I think of the lives we all seek to honor and remember, the role of transmitting legacies from generation to generation.  I think of the strength shown last Yom HaShoah, and of visits I’ve made to the many sites across Europe that ensure history is remembered and acted upon.  “You open the book of remembrance, Which proclaims itself, And the seal of each person is there.”  I can only hope, and pray, that, I am sealed in the Book of Life and that the year ahead will bring opportunities for growth, friendship, and strength.

L’Shanah Tovah U’Metukah.

Written by Paige Harouse, C’19

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The Festival of Sukkot

Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning “shelters” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of
giving thanks for the bounty of the fall produce, which farmers would harvest day after
day, while dwelling in huts deep into their fields, away from the comforts of home.
Sukkot also commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert, during
which they were protected by the welcome shelter of clouds, and some say of God’s
Clouds of Glory. During Sukkot, it is a mitzvah for Jews erect a sukkah (single of sukkot)
that has walls but is wide open, and that is firm enough to provide refuge from the
elements but flimsy enough to remind us that permanence is but an illusion. We then eat
and even sleep in the sukkah for the duration of the seven-day holiday. And finally, we
entertain as many different guests (or “ushpizin” in Yiddish) in our sukkah as we can, all
the while treating them as family (or even better)!

Taken together the themes and observances of Sukkot come to remind us that all of us
are sojourners in life and on this earth, that none but God owns any of the land and its
bounty, and that the land is not ours to hoard or wall off from other people. Rather we
are called to create permeable spaces in which we treat one another with the highest
respect, dignity and graciousness, in full appreciation that we are all equal and all
different and all precious.

The entire Georgetown community is warmly invited to join us for any or all of the
programs taking place in our sukkah Oct. 4 – Oct. 10. And all are especially encouraged to take few minutes out of your busy week to go on your own to experience what it’s like to sit quietly in the sukkah and to reflect on the meditation on the posters placed in and around it. And you are always welcome to have a picnic lunch, breakfast or dinner there with friends. (Casual dress is just fine! Come as you are, because we love you. Just as you are.)

Full Schedule of Sukkot Events

EVENT 1: SOLIDARITY and CELEBRATION: Decorate the Sukkah!
Wednesday, October 4th, 4 – 5 PM
Come show solidarity and celebrate with the Jewish community as we decorate our
sukkah on October 4 th . Swing by the sukkah on Healy lawn for a few minutes on
October 4 th at any time between 4 – 5 PM to sanctify our space with your presence and
by hanging a decoration (provided); you are then welcome to stay or return for refreshments during our open house in the sukkah between 5 – 7 PM. As you add your
presence and decoration, you help us sanctify this sukkah as a refuge, a sanctuary, a
sacred space free of bias, strife, division and exclusion and filled instead with affirmation,
love, unity and inclusion.

EVENT 2: RECEPTION and RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE
Wednesday, October 4, 5 – 7 PM
Enjoy DELICIOUS refreshments and schmoozing in the sukkah, option to stay for the
Sukkot ma’ariv service 6:30 – 7 PM.

EVENT 3: CHAPLAINS’ TEA and CRUMPETS with the Center for Jewish Civilization
Tuesday, October 10, 3 – 3:50 PM followed by Prayer for Peace and Justice

EVENT 4: SOLIDARITY and SPIRITUAL SANCTUARY: Honoring our UndocuHoyas
Tuesday, October 10, 4 – 5 PM
Every year, the Georgetown Jewish community has one program in the sukkah that
addresses a pressing justice issue, or honors a community showing strength in the face
of injustice. This year, please join us as we affirm the strength, resilience, wisdom
and power of the UndocuHoya community in particular, and by extension all who are
unfairly facing uncertainty due to the U.S’s broken immigration system, the current state
of DACA, and the precariousness of current U.S. immigration policies.

EVENT 5: EAT and ENJOY with the JSA
Wednesday. October 11, noon – 1
Bring your lunch (brown bag, Leo’s or the Farmer’s Market), and eat it in our beautiful
sukkah as the holiday comes to a close.

We hope to see you at these events!

L’Shalom (Towards Peace),

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director of Jewish Life at Georgetown

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