At 2Life Communities, our Generations Together program is bringing Shillman House residents and 5th-8th graders from the MetroWest Jewish Day School (MWJDS) together to study something we all need more of: chesed, the Hebrew word for lovingkindness, a deeply held value in Judaism and many other religions.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the Shillman House dining room filled with ancient kings, Roman soldiers, and earnest civilian leaders—or rather, residents and their young partners from MetroWest Jewish Day School, pretending they were in Judea during King Herod’s reign. Together, they tried to imagine how the people of that time might have reacted to one of the first teachings of Jesus Christ.
It’s an exercise led by Reverend Debbie Clark, of Edwards Church in Framingham, as part of a yearlong 2Life Communities program called “Passport to Chesed: Celebrating Lovingkindness in Three Faiths.” Residents and their 5th-8th-grade guests go on to learn some Christian teachings on love and kindness, and they ask frank questions which Rev. Clark answers with beautiful sincerity.
In later sessions, students and residents will learn about the five pillars of Islam, study chesed, and participate in a community project to strengthen our connections with the Framingham interfaith community. This is the sixth year of our partnership with MetroWest Jewish Day School, and the Chesed program builds on the social justice issues participants identified last year, one of which is the recent immigration ban and discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. These are heavy subjects at any age, and the group’s decision to address these injustices through an interfaith exploration of kindness is inspiring.