Member of Brooklyn Synagogue Reflects on Interfaith Effort
For Steven Flax from Brooklyn Congregations United (BCU) in New York City, his trip to Louisiana to attend PICO National Training offered him a chance to not only learn more about the art of PICO organizing, but to experience in a new way the power of building relationships across faith traditions.
“I was raised in a nominally orthodox Jewish family that was traumatized by their experiences in the Jewish-European holocaust. I had a great uncle who lost 6 of his children in Auschwitz…I grew up in a sort of insular environment,” said Flax, from Kolot Chayeinu synagogue in Brooklyn.
Flax has extensive experience working with people from different cultures and traditions, having worked with development projects in East Africa as well as with two Community Development Corporations in Brooklyn. But going to PICO National Training was a stretch for him in a different way, providing him with an opportunity to experience first-hand the felt side of some of PICO’s organizing principles.
“Going to the ‘Rosaryville’ retreat center in Louisiana was a leap for me,” reflected Flax. “But I went to the training in order to grow, to expand, to challenge myself.”
The opportunity to interact with other PICO leaders from a variety of religious backgrounds helped Flax break down what he called “some internal psychic barriers.”
“I found common ground with people from very different faith traditions, and that was a remarkably rich experience for me,” said Flax. “I believe my experience was rooted in PICO’s principle that there is power in the relationship,” Flax reflected. “What I experienced in Rosaryville was exactly this – in these relationships there was a love and trust that leads to real power. I just found that energizing.”
“When you can learn to trust, you’re unencumbered, you’re unfettered. You’re creative elements just flow,” continued an emotional Flax. “It was something that I had been longing for a long time – I think it was ‘beshert,’ it was meant to be. It was a blessing.”
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