A Camino and a Cause

Just under a week ago , I completed a pilgrimage begun last year on the Camino Portugues.  350km walked from Porto, Portugal to Muxia, Spain by way of Santiago de Compostela.  I’ll have more to say shortly about a lesson or two learned along the way, but for the moment, I’d like to tell you about a fundraising endeavour connected to the walk.

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Here’s what I had to say on the fundraising page, which you’d be welcome to click on here should you wish to make a donation.  Even as I edit this, we’ve exceeded the goal I’d set by a couple of dollars, but since I’ve done all this typing and picture-pasting, I’m certainly open to exceeding it 🙂

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But when I am only for myself, what am I?

And if not now, when?

– Rabbi Hillel, Ethics of the Sages 1:14

And with the passage above, the walk I’ve just completed along the Camino Portugues has been encapsulated.  As has this invitation to join me in supporting Heart to Heart, which brings Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli* teens together – young people whose lives almost never intersect, though their homes are a short distance apart – for three weeks of summer camp in Ontario, Canada.

That’s the brief summary.  If it’s all you need to know, feel free to jump down and make a donation.  And if you’d like more details…

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If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

In being for myself and giving rein to my love of long-distance walking, I have just completed a pilgrimage on the Camino Portugues.  Two weeks of walking last year, and two more this year – in total, about 350km (with about 18 lbs of backpack) from Porto, Portugal to Muxia, Spain, by way of Santiago de Compostela.  Oceans and forests, cobblestones and asphalt, solitude and camaraderie.  Heaven, in other words.

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But when I am only for myself, what am I?

Throughout the pilgrimage, I engaged in spiritual practices – for instance, reciting brachot (blessings) to express gratitude for the wonders of nature and the workings of the body, counting the Omer to bridge the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, and reading the Ethics of the Sages, an ancient guidebook of rabbinic wisdom.  However much these practices might benefit me – and others by extension, I hope – I also wanted to do something more tangible.  As with last year, my pilgrimage has come to its end at Shavuot, a holiday where in ancient times, Jewish pilgrims offered the first fruits of their spring harvest to the Divine, while in more recent centuries, the practice has been to celebrate the receiving of Torah at Sinai.  What offering would I make, and how to celebrate Torah as expressed in the quotes I have here from Hillel and Shimon ben Gamliel?

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And if not now, when?

Having completed the Camino, I’ve now made an offering in the form of a $500 donation to Heart to Heart which, as I’ve mentioned, brings Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli teenagers together for three weeks of camp in Canada – where they surrender their cell phones, live and learn, swim and hike, and work their way towards a deeper understanding of one another.  Then, once back in Israel, they participate in projects conceived at camp, towards the end of cultivating a shared society.  If interested, you can learn more about Heart to Heart’s educational approach here.

The $500 I’ve donated would cover the cost of supporting one of these youngsters in their post-camp endeavours, so already something has been accomplished.  I’m hoping you’ll consider adding to my donation.  Ideally, by June 30th, I’d love to see another $550 come in (bringing things to a total of $1,050), which covers the cost of a week of camp for one of the teens.  No amount you choose to give would be too small.  Canadian donors will receive a charitable tax receipt.

So if you’re inclined, please join me in supporting Heart to Heart.

(*The term “Palestinian-Israeli” refers to Arabs who are citizens of Israel, as opposed to those living in the occupied territories.  They’ve often been described as Arab-Israelis, but many prefer to be known as Palestinian citizens of Israel.)

The world is sustained on three principles:

on truth, and on justice, and on peace.

– Shimon b. Gamliel, Ethics of the Sages, 1:18

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1 Comment

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One response to “A Camino and a Cause

  1. Gloria Boxen

    Hi Lorne,More strength to you!  I understand it’s not an easy pilgrimage. Your email reminds me to make my small donation–I have a mailing from Heart to Heart to use.

    Warm regards,Gloria

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