Stand UP DC #1: the Us Holocaust Museum, Memorials, and more!

We are officially over a week into our program, but it definitely feels like we have been together for much longer as we have had a packed schedule. All of our participants have enjoyed that the program has relaxed a bit more because Shabbat was this passed weekend. This allowed our group to reflect on what we have been doing during this program and what they can do after this program is over.

Friday night we spent at the Historic 6th and I synagogue in Gallery Place/Chinatown neighborhood of DC. Our group enjoyed a special musical service that only happens once a month. After a beautiful service we ate dinner with many of the congregation members. We finished the evening with some songs, which lead to our group leading everyone in dancing around the room. It was a great way for our group to bond in a different way through services, singing, dancing, and eating.

Saturday was a peaceful day spent on the DC National Mall, after a nice service led by two participants Ben and Frances. Our participants then had an opportunity to go to the Smithsonian museums and the DC memorials. A few they went to were the Air and Space Museum, Natural History, FDR Memorial, MLK Memorial, and the Sculpture Garden, etc. We then had a wonderful Havdallah led by one of our participants Nicole, where we made our own spice bags and recited the prayers at the Georgetown Waterfront.

Sunday was a powerful day that forced everyone to broaden their ideas about our focus of hunger and homelessness to the Holocaust. The morning we allowed for our participants to participate in the homelessness Outreach Run, where our participants could speak to people who were experiencing homelessness and after a conversation, could help them by giving them food or thanking them for sharing their thoughts. We then brought the group to the U.S. Holocaust Museum for the entire afternoon. Before our tour, we had the opportunity to listen to a holocaust survivor who lived in Paris during that time. It was a very powerful way to start their Holocaust museum experience.

We have been through a great deal of programs and events together as a group as we will again continue this for the last 2 full days we have together. We will give our service at two more sites, kayak on the Potomac River, experience Bethesda, Maryland, see the Capitol, and go to the DC zoo to name a few. Quotes from the participants:

“Today I met a newly homeless man named David. We had a great conversation and it meant a lot to both of us. None of society’s stereotypes were true about David.” – Nicole

“The Holocaust Museum was very moving. It was heartbreaking to see such senseless cruelty on display, but also uplifting to see acts of valor and heroism.” – Avram

“Previously we had been volunteering regarding homeless individuals, but yesterday I finally got the chance to talk to one when we went to the park. Most people perceive homeless individuals as people who are dirty and lazy, but Rodger (the guy I talked to), was very kind and insightful on many topics we discussed. After this, we went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. There I was able to connect homelessness and hunger to the Holocaust. Many individuals in the Holocaust starved to death and were kicked out of their homes, just as homeless people. Those are two of the big connections I made yesterday, which I didn’t consider before.” – Laura

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