As we “Count the Omer”, the days between Passover and Shavuot, we are struck with an irony: Shavuot is both the only Jewish holiday that has a ritualized count leading to it, yet it is also the only holiday mentioned in the Torah that is not assigned a specific date. That is a metaphor for our struggle with the coronavirus. It is also a metaphor for youth in the foster care system waiting for families, who are always counting the days with no promise of the family for which they long.
Even as local governments greatly limit their services during this unprecedented time, Second Nurture is ramping up our work at four of our eight new partner communities in LA County via remote introductory sessions and agency orientations.
We are also continuing to support our families in our thriving Wilshire Blvd Temple cohort who are in lockdown with their children, waiting for their children to come home, or in painful limbo as their adoption finalizations are postponed: holding remote bagel brunches where we gather to share a meal and talk through challenges and connecting in other ways such as remote trauma-informed yoga with the talented Kate O’Hara of Thriving Tree Yoga LLC.
Meanwhile, Susan is hard at work improving the Jewish educational materials. The Dave Thomas Foundation renewed their generous support to bring the resources we created (through their generosity) last year to a new level—professionally designed, web-friendly and branded. We are also thrilled to report that we have exceeded our goal to raise the $60k needed to trigger the second year donation of the generous Benmosche three-year commitment. Another generous grant from the Aviv Foundation helped us meet that goal.
We are having similar success in Columbus, receiving a renewed grant from Mentor Central Ohio, and a new grant from the Ohio Council for the Arts, to fund our collaborative effort to create a mentorship community for Transitional Age Youth (TAY) at the Harmony Project from Star House’s Carol Stewart Village, and the professional expertise of Starfish Alliance to guide us. When social isolation measures are lifted, the new mentors will be ready to welcome the youth into the Harmony Project Choir.
In these months, we are all counting the days—both to a safe freedom from isolation and, for Jews, to Shavuot to mark the moment God gave us the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But none of us h9lds the longing of the children and teens in foster care who count the days until their own Sinai, their own covenant of belonging, with no marked date to believe in.