Sunday Morning Encounter Inspires Inclusivity
By Samantha Dubrinsky,
BJF Director of Community Impact
It was early on a Sunday morning and I was a little bleary-eyed. I pulled into the Levite Jewish Community Center and was deep in thought as I exited my car and made my way to the entrance of the building.
I ended up walking behind an African-American family who was dressed up. I assumed they were heading to church services, which take place inside the LJCC. (The LJCC rents space to a local church so that the congregation can have services and Sunday school.) Normally, this family wouldn’t have stood out to me, but they were dressed nicely, which struck me as different among the sea of people dressed in workout clothes, myself included, heading to the fitness center.
The family and I were headed the same way and I smiled as the small girl chattered away to her parents, bouncing up and down the hall. As we neared the end of the hallway, the little girl stopped to open a door but before she did, she reached up, standing on her tip toes, and touched the mezuzah hanging on the door frame. A mezuzah (pictured above) is a scroll mounted on door frames of Jewish buildings and, often, religious Jews touch the mezuzah before entering a room.
She then kissed the fingers that touched the mezuzah, opened the door and walked into the room. I smiled as I continued down the hall way, thinking about how this little girl’s experience at the LJCC has made an impact on her.
The beauty of the LJCC is that its mission is focused on building a community. And that community isn’t just for Jews — it’s for everyone. But, there’s no denying the Jewish presence at the LJCC from the mezuzahs hanging on every doorway to the lessons taught at the Cohn Early Childhood Learning Center.
I wondered, as I continued on with my morning, if the little girl and her family understood what this gesture meant to our Jewish community. As simple as the action was, it demonstrated to me how important it is to build bridges and nurture relationships with other communities. The LJCC is the perfect place to do this.
The openness and friendliness that characterize the LJCC are inviting; the “J” draws people of all ages and makes them want to be a part of a Jewish experience. It’s a really amazing thing, if you think about it.
I hope that this family never forgets their experience at the LJCC. In fact, I hope they share it and tell others about the welcoming environment that permeates the halls of the “J.” I know I will not soon forget this little girl and her eagerness to be a part of something bigger.