Personal Reflection: From a Reluctant Retreat Participant to a Tikkun Olam Advocate Building Houses for Hurricane Victims in Houston

by Mariel Wilk, Moishe House Phoenix Community Board Member, Future MHWOW Host and Retreat Alum

Moishe House became a second home when I stepped into the world of being an adult after college. Soon after, a kind soul told me about retreats that Moishe House offered for young professionals. I just assumed it would be these silly little weekends of singing songs and socializing. I am not saying that is not great and all, but just not my cup of tea (or matzah ball soup).

But, I decided to give it a chance and look up what these retreats were all about. I was in shock of the amazing opportunities I was missing out on all along when I was so close-minded. I have now been on an outdoor adventure, two mindfulness and one Act Now retreats and can hands down say they have been some of the most amazing weekends of my life! Each retreat has impacted my life and my true value of Judaism: community, connection, enlightenment, positive change, and to be a better human, while inspiring those around me to do the same.

This last trip touched on something so near and dear to my heart and soul. I was able to embark on a journey with other beautiful Moishe House members around the country and dive into what I believe is the most influential and important part of Judaism – tikkun olam. Below is just a small summary of my journey as part of the second cohort of the Act Now Houston Service Learning Retreat.

Our job as humans? To help other humans. Not just giving them what we think they need, but asking what they need and listening to their stories. What do they REALLY need? Being thoughtful with our time and knowing what we are giving is truly what will help them is what real service and change is all about.

Yes, making time is hard, but none of these humans, just like me and you, had time for a flood to ruin their homes…those who didn’t flood, go help those who did, those who have privilege, go help those who don’t – it’s as simple as that.

Repair the world; your body is a home for the soul as much as your home is a home to your body AND soul. For many, their home and sense of home was lost, precious sentimental things ruined forever. What would that feel like?

I am fortunate to have made a small change this weekend by helping to bring closer a moment of “re-pairing” a home to a family with an amazing group of inspiring people. Not only did I walk away with new skills and feeling like I was on TLC’s Trading Spaces, but I felt real TLC (tender love and care), for I had the chance to see the REAL results of devastation in a community and actually DO something about it. Rain or shine we must do the work to help repair this world together.

Participants on the Act Now Houston trip make repairs to a house damaged by flooding. This activity was part of three days of direct service and learning in the city of Houston.

I hope you can take a piece of this with you and invest your time into a future project in your community to instill positive change in the world, for that is what we were all brought here to do in the first place. Thank you Moishe House for helping to make these opportunities a reality.

Mariel was part of the second cohort of our Act Now Houston Service Learning Retreat. In April and in June, Jewish young adults from across the United States traveled to Houston, Texas to participate in learning and direct service in communities still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and the devastating floods of August and September 2017. You can see photos of the trips here and here.