A few weeks back, I realized that it was the 20th anniversary of my bar mitzvah (my bar mitzvah was about 5 weeks after my birthday due to family vacation scheduling), and so I thought it appropriate to pick up a few things for the synagogue that I’ve made quite a few friends at in the few times that I’d come to the Friday night services since moving back to Detroit. I stopped at a fairly crummy grocery store on my way back down to Detroit after working in the suburbs on a short term legal project, and picked up a some hummus, olives, crackers, a case of beer and a bottle of Elijah Craig bourbon. (There was a little more food to balance out the booze, but we are a drinking crowd, and dinner was already covered.) I rushed home, fed the dogs, washed my face, and made it just in time to help lead services.
After our short services, an ever-changing assortment of melodies strung together from the scattered experiences of the handful that gather to welcome the sabbath together, we blessed the wine, washed hands, and broke bread together. Before digging into dinner, I got to pour a round of whiskey, and toast to returning to Detroit after many years away. Over a bowl of soup, along with some bread and assorted salads, I heard about some of the civil rights battles fought by the generation before us, a generation of young activists who took back neighborhoods after the city fell apart in the early 70s. Instead of planning and plodding and waiting for approval, they simply made things happen, and built some of the community projects that are in part still going on today. After toasting another round of Elijah Craig, I got up for another plate of beans and salad and sat down next to some faces I hadn’t met before. One introduced himself as Jeff, a writer for the Free Press. I’d had Jeff on the top of my contact list for Replanting Roots for some time. Jeff’s written some of the finest stories of the struggles of the incarcerated around Detroit in print. So I’m deeply honored that he has taken an interest in Replanting Roots, and has shared with us so generously.