In the Jewish community, which I have been a part of since marrying a Jew nearly 30 years ago, the two words of haven or home and shalom are inextricably linked. According to Jewish tradition, the home should be a haven or, to be more accurate, a sanctuary. Quoting Anita Diament from her classic, Living a Jewish Life, "Shalom comes from the root shalem, which means ‘complete’ or ‘whole’"(1) (her italics). She also says the Hebrew words for the goal of a peaceful home is shalom bayit, which does not mean a quiet home but a whole one.
This last point has particular significance in light of the recent turmoil on campus. I would argue that the current disharmony, which has deprived us of our peace and quiet, is the result of many of us seeking a more whole, or holy, community. This leads us to another Hebrew term, tikkun olam, which roughly translated means "to repair the world."
To Jews, tikkun olam has connotations of social justice, which clearly resonates with SLU’s Mission Statement. What many of us have been doing these past few months with our letter writing and other forms of activism have been examples of tikkun olam. In our case, we perceive that our small piece of the world, SLU, is broken and we have set ourselves the task of individually and collectively trying to fix it. To make our community, as my colleague, Harold Bush says in his essay, the way it ought to be (paraphrasing his quote from C. Plantinga).
And what better place to begin working towards making SLU what it ought to be than to take as a model the life and work of a singular Jesuit, Fr. Claude Heithaus, who 59 years ago this month, performed his own world-changing act of tikkun olam? In the process, he made SLU one of the few havens for African-Americans who wanted to pursue a college education at that time. It is my hope that we can use Heithaus Haven to collectively envision a SLU for the 21st century that lives out the vision and ideals of Fr. Heithaus.
(1) Anita Diament, Living a Jewish Life, p. 17