The word “Kadosh” comes from root of the Hebrew word which means to separate, to distinguish. How can separateness create holiness? What are we separating away from and perhaps towards? If holiness is directional, where are we heading?
When we are in the process of finding holiness or separating, we are coming closer to something else. Our journey to holiness could be described as moving closer, moving closer to God, to other human beings, to memories, to experiences, and to places. When we travel in a direction of “closeness,” we are separating from the mundane. Another way to describe this would be going from ignorance to awareness, unconscious breathing to conscious breath, or detachment to attachment.
This week’s Torah portion is Kedoshim, when we read the line:
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him or her as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I, Adonai, am your God.” Our challenge in Kedoshim is to draw nearer to those who are NOT in our inner circles, the stranger, and most importantly those in need.
Last week at our wonderful Women of KI Interfaith Luncheon, we had several speakers on the topic of “A Religious Response to Food Insecurity.” If I could rename the program, I would have called it “A Holy Response to Food Insecurity.” Holy is not a word we often use in our day to day because it is a loaded word, but now that we know one of the paths to holiness is to become closer to the stranger.
We received this information from Kathy Fisher, Coalition Against Hunger:
Hunger in Montgomery County:
Food insecurity = 72,520 people (8.9%)
Child food insecurity = 22,250 children (12.4%)
An estimated 58% of those who are food insecure are above 185% of poverty (i.e. are not eligible for many of the federal nutrition programs)
SNAP (food stamps) participants = 49,983
Public school students eligible for free and reduced-price (FRP) meals = 34,698 (32%)
Summer meals are estimated to reach less than 15% of FRP eligible students.
We know that there is a gap; there is a separation between those that have food and those who are food insecure. We do an amazing job collecting food in our Tzedek Center (see list of what we currently need here), and with our monthly HaMotzi dinners. Please move closer to the path of holiness by bridging the gaps and by moving closer to Kadosh.
Cantor Amy E. Levy