A Place to Call One’s Own

 

Author:

Justin Goldstein

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Originally published for the Hazon CSA newsletter.Discusses the concept of home and connections we have to land.

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We are all familiar with the famous idiom, “home is where the heart is.”  The idea of this colloquialism is that home is not about a specific place, but rather about the emotion we connect to the feelings of being with friends and family, of feeling cared for and supported.  However, I might offer an interpretative change to this phrase, what would it mean if “home is where the hearth is,”?  In other words, what if the place itself--the physical place--elicits its own emotion?  Clearly there are the emotions of familiarity associated with family, but what of the familiarity of connection to place?  In my own experience, I cherish the experience of joining with family wherever they may be; yet specific emotions which come from memories of my childhood home, in which I spent 18 consecutive years, involves its own unique sentiments.

One of the most dramatic effects we look at, as Jews, when we consider the effect of millennia of exile--and in relation to that the dramatic shift the Zionist endeavor eventually inspired with global Jewry--we often refer to the loss of connection to place, the loss of an indigenous relationship to the land.  While not necessarily in reference to our historic indigenous land, as CSA members we reignite, in a sense, the special emotions of having a strong and immediate connection to a specific place, a particular plot of land.  By supporting a particular local farm we, as consumers, gain a connection to that plot of land which is being farmed for our sustenance.  We have access to it in a physical and palpable sense, and this is a value which has inspired us to support local agriculture.

Abraham, too, had a concern about retaining a connection to a particular plot of land.  In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Hayei Sarah, Abraham purchases a cave from a Hittite landowner to entomb his wife.  Eventually, Abraham and his children would also be interred in this same location.  To this day, Jewish people (and many Muslims and Christians) visit the tomb in Hebron.  Abraham’s purchase provided a connection through generations to a particular place, a physical space.  By supporting local farmers, we provide a similar connection for our own experience and also for future generations.  By being a part of a CSA, we connect ourselves to a unique place and its role in our lives and, hopefully, in that of future generations to come.

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