Creating Welcoming Communities - February 3, 2021

One way that we can help to create a welcoming environment is to take time to learn more about the cultures, beliefs and practices of those whose life experience is different from our own.

Posted
February 3, 2021
Open Book

Creating Welcoming Communities - February 3, 2021

One way that we can help to create a welcoming environment is to take time to learn more about the cultures, beliefs and practices of those whose life experience is different from our own.

Posted
February 3, 2021
JFS Friends – 
In the Torah (the five books of Moses in the Old Testament) the idea of “Welcoming the Stranger” is mentioned no less than 36 times. This repetition serves as an important reminder that the Jewish people were once strangers in a land where they were not familiar with the customs, beliefs and way of life. These reminders serve as a lesson that eventually, each of us experiences a moment in our lives when we can feel outside, or other, and that it is our responsibility to create a welcoming environment where everyone can feel a sense of welcome and belonging.
One way that we can help to create a welcoming environment is to take time to learn more about the cultures, beliefs and practices of those whose life experience is different from our own. The month of February offers some wonderful opportunities to do just that. During February, for example, we celebrate Black History Month and the Chinese New Year falls on February 12th.
Each of these are opportunities to seek out ways to grow our knowledge and become more aware of the unique cultures that are part of our community.
Here are some suggestions for ways that you can learn more about the various communities, cultures and experiences that are a part of our diverse community.
  • Visit a Museum dedicated to the culture or community that you want to learn more about – many now are available virtually so you have access to resources around the world
  • Read a book by an author that is part of the community you want to learn more about
  • Attend a cultural event in your community
  • Learn about the individuals who are considered key historical figures important to the history of the community
  • Learn more about the artists (artists, poets, musicians, etc.) that are a part of the community and seek out opportunities to experience their art – in person or virtually
  • Sign up to receive news from an organization that is part of the community
  • Follow leaders within the community on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

When I was in college, my circle of friends became more diverse and I remember clearly when I would bring home friends for a visit – especially for the holidays – seeing the confusion in their eyes as they experienced some of our traditions for the first time. It was an important reminder that what felt familiar and comfortable to me – was not necessarily familiar or comfortable for others. Over the years we were in school together I had the privilege to be invited into some of their homes as well and to see and experience their traditions, holidays and beliefs.
I treasure these in-person experiences but also recognize that our digital world makes it easier than ever before to find resources and information and can be a great place to begin our learning journey.
In our digital world, it is easy to add holidays from other countries and religious traditions to our electronic calendars. In this way, we can become more sensitive and aware of the important dates that are part of the rhythm of life for various communities.
If there are holidays, traditions or customs that are important to you please share with others.

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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