As Jews observe Passover this month at the traditional seder meal, they recite the 10 Plagues that God is said to have imposed on the ancient Egyptians as punishment for not freeing their Israelite slaves. But this will be the second consecutive Passover marked by the modern-day plague of Covid-19, which has killed more than 2 million people worldwide and dramatically restricted all forms of social interaction.
The work of Mike Wirth, a Queens University professor and artist, will be included as part of a national initiative by the CANVAS Jewish Arts & Culture Funding Collaborative called "Dwelling in a Time of Plagues" Passover project. The coast-to-coast exhibition mobilizes Jewish artists, authors, artistic and cultural networks, and museums as a creative response to the real-world plagues of our time.
Wirth's piece, entitled "Havtachah – the Promise," honors those in our community who are living in tent cities and who face dire economic hardship and housing insecurity. A Charlotte interfaith project, the traveling 16' x 8' mural will originally be installed at Camp North End during the Jewish holiday of Passover, March 28 to April 4. It will then move to four other sites around Charlotte for Easter and Ramadan as part of a "pitching our tent tour" that will inspire increased conversation around Charlotte housing.
MeckMIN is very pleased to be a part of this project – watch for more information about how you can participate when we partner with Park Road Baptist Church to host the mural April 25 to May 12.
Traveling mural exhibit during Passover, Easter and Ramadan:
Site #1 –Camp North End (across from entrance to the Hebrew Cemetery) - March 28 to April 4
Site #2 - Queens University/Myers Park Baptist Church – April 4 to April 11
Site #3 – Muslim Community Center of Charlotte – April 11 to April 18
Site #4 – Temple Beth El/Shalom Park – April 18 to April 25
Site #5 – MeckMIN/Park Road Baptist Church – April 25 – May 12
Read or listen to the WFAE story about the project | By Sarah Delia
A Commentary on “Dwelling in a Time of Plagues” Interfaith Art Project ,Written by Executive Director of MeckMIN, LeDayne McLeese Polaski
I recently came across a post by Tom Carter, a writer for Speak Up Magazine.
Carter wrote of a tumultuous 24 hour period – being turned away from an overflow shelter after being misinformed about the cutoff time, getting little sleep because of the cold, waking up with aching hands having lost his gloves, and then running into some friends he hadn’t seen for a while who treated him to lunch at an art exhibit.
He closed: " Following was the best meal I had in quite a while which led to an almost magically good mood. I got to enjoy art, eat good food, and see old friends. I had been treated importantly for the day. I felt noticed. I want more of that. "
In a documentary titled “Doing the Work” that MeckMIN created with JCSU this year, we focused on leaders from five religious traditions reflecting on the work their communities have done in response to the issues created or made worse by the pandemic.
Poor No More founder Jermaine Nakia Lee shared in the piece, “We all have light. We all have dark . . . the light is activated when it really needs to be and that’s the only good thing about a collective crisis – the light gets to shine a little brighter.”
Over the last year, I have been in a most amazing space to watch that light shine as the interfaith community has responded in consistent, committed, courageous ways, paying particular attention to the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, including those who are living in tents.
Why have they done it? They might speak about it in different ways –
A Sikh might tell you -- No one is a stranger to me.
A Unitarian might say -- We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence.
A Jew might turn to the command -- Love your neighbor as yourself.
A Bahá’i might offer -- Lay not on any soul a load you would not wish to be laid upon you.
I believe that all would say what Mike Wirth says so brilliantly in this work – that we’re not talking about a city of tents – we’re talking about a city of people.
We allow homelessness to continue when we cannot acknowledge that those without a place to live are fully human. We respond with the mindsets, the logistics, the policies and the plans to end it, when we see them – and count them as sisters and brothers.
I want more of that.