My mother's family fled Russia during the Second World War. Prior to that, her family had lived in Moscow for many years. Life in the former Soviet Union was difficult. In the communist system, if you were not somehow associated with the government -- part of the leadership, or you were not stealing -- then day-to-day life was worrisome.
In addition, when the Soviets took control, they closed most of the religious institutions, transforming many churches into "museums" and old synagogues into social venues. The communist hoodlums made it extremely difficult to live a dedicated religious life. Jews were forbidden to provide a Jewish education to their children, to observe the Sabbath or have any gatherings without prior government permission.
Yet, despite the great difficulties, my grandparents, and the other members of their community, found a way to keep the idea of “community” healthy and vibrant. When someone in the community fell ill, the rest of the community members would snap into action to make sure that the family in need was fully covered. Whether it meant someone cooking meals for the family or making sure that the patient was receiving the best of care, somehow, at every one of life’s important occasions, the community came through.
Some may argue that it was precisely the poor conditions in which they lived that forced them to be there for each other. The fact remains however, that the vibrant sense of community helped them flourish and allowed for the children to experience true joy.
It is becoming more difficult to define “community.” For some it is a sense of cohesiveness among a group of people; for others it’s a communal support system. Most recently the term “community” has taken on a whole new life form, i.e., your online life. One thing is for certain, the benefits of neighbors getting to know each other and working together for public safety and better education are immeasurable!
Unity produces energy, with the potential of illuminating much darkness and bringing tremendous beneficial and much needed light, far beyond the physical limits of the community.
This week, I received an email from Skylar Peak, one of our new city council members. The email was a survey in wanting to hear the voices of Malibu. I applaud Skylar for his quick movement in taking the steps to bring our community together. We may not all agree, but disagreement should never get in the way of building great community.
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