After a relaxing and uneventful drive down to the nation’s capital, we checked in to the Sheraton Pentagon City in time to relax a little before Shabbat.Then some 250 Jewish teenagers from a dozen states — representing California to New York, Florida to Rhode Island — gathered to welcome Shabbat with song. We moved quickly into a communal dinner, which ended with time to meet new friends from around the country.
Friday evening services followed, led by two guitar-playing rabbis.
Then the participants delved into the complex interaction of hunger and social programs in America. In the context of Maimonides’ famous ranking of different kinds of aid, the students debated the merits of Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and more, all under the umbrella of “The Dark Night: Poverty and Homelessness in America.”
The evening included a chance to experience what it might be like to rely on social programs for food.
Dessert topped off the evening.
All in all, it was a fantastic start to a weekend of exploring tikkun olam, social justice, and the power of lobbying governmental leaders.