Monday, October 04, 2010

Support my Participation in Auschwitz Retreat!

I have raised $1250 to cover my plane ticket, expenses in Krakow and part of my registration fee. Please contribute towards the remainder of the fee!

Why do I want to go to Auschwitz?

Two years ago, I came to Montague, MA to train at the headquarters of a group called the Zen Peacemakers. After my training, Bernie Glassman hired me on as staff. To put it simply: I love this place and the people here. I cherish the practices and teachings and want nothing more than to plunge in more deeply. While many Buddhist centers focus mainly on meditation, founder Zen Master Bernie Glassman has lead the Zen Peacemakers into the streets and social services as a sphere of active practice, bearing witness to all of society and taking actions to heal it. The deepest fuel for this work comes from witnessing humanity's greatest atrocity: Auschwitz.

What happened last time I went?

As I explain in a series of blog posts at Elephant Journal, attending the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz last June was very powerful for me. It opened my heart and clarified my vision.

What is special about the next trip?

This November, we are initiating an innovative element of bringing together young adults to bear witness together at Auschwitz from Israel (both Jewish and Arab), Palestinians, Poles, Swiss, Italian, Americans and others. Bernie asked me to serve as Young Adult Coordinator for the retreat, but because there is no funding to cover this roll, I am raising money to participate.

Frequent Flier Miles: Do you have frequent flier miles with an airline or partner that flies to Poland? If you would be willing to donate them to help me get to Poland, you would take a significant chunk out of how much I need to raise.

Why should you support me? (Here's 10 reasons)

10. Join me: I will take you on the journey with me by naming a bead after you on a 'mala,' or prayer bracelet, that I will create and bring with me on the retreat. A $300 contribution will be represented by a large bead and a $50 contribution will be represented by a small bead.

9. Spiritual Practice: Donation is a spiritual practice for both giver and receiver. As far back as the time of the Buddha, it was the practice of lay congregations to support monks through donations of food and clothing. There are parallels in most traditions.

8. Receive updates: While it took me several months to edit my journals from the last retreat into blog posts, I will send close friends and sponsors correspondances during the retreat itself. I see this as a relationship. Not just a donation.

7. Support young adults: My experience teaching high school for two years and directing a residential teen summer camp will inform my role as U.S. Young Adult Coordinator in caring for the emotional well-being of young adult participants.

6. Inspire me: Participating in the Auschwitz retreat last June had a profound and beneficial effect on me. It opened up my heart and deepened my presence in working in service.

5. Invest in my future: I value this path deeply: from starting Seminary two years ago to working the past several months as founder Bernie Glassman's Assistant to my current role as Marketing and Communications Coordinator. I am comitted to this work as a vocation and know that the practice of bearing witness at Auschwitz will move me further along that path.

4. Get the word out: As the editor of the Bearing Witness Blog and regular contributor at the Elephant Journal, I will eventually share my experience with a wide audience.

3. Heal society: Registration fees support the charity work of the Zen Peacemakers, including building future retreats and offering free community meals and wellness offerings for low-income families.

2. Innovate fund-raising: I hope to use this experience of online fund-raising as a pilot to create a new scholarship-raising structure for Zen Peacemakers program participants.

1. Build a future of peace:
As Zen Peacemakers staff, I hopes to apply lessons learned on the retreat towards building future retreats with a greater number of young adult participants. I believe that bringing together Israeli Jews and Arabs in the practice of Bearing Witness and listening to each other could contribute to a more peaceful future.

Want to learn more?

Watch the video below to learn more about the retreat or read the reasons below to learn why I invite you to support me. Thank you. View Retreat web page to learn more about it.

Participation Budget

$800 = plane ticket to Poland
$1,000 = retreat registration fee (includes all buses, food and accommodations at the Dialogue Center in Oswiecim and operational expenses)
$60 = paypal fee
$100 = hostel in Krakow

$1,960 = TOTAL

Don't want to pay via paypal?

Please call me at (413)367-5269 with any questions.
You may also write a check to Ari Pliskin and mail it the following address. If you do this, please notify me by e-mail as soon as possible.
177 Ripley Rd.
Montague, MA 01351

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise requested, funds not used for this retreat will be donated to support the humanitarian work of the Zen Peacemakers.

It's not just about money:
I would like to share a message with you from a $10 donor who means just as much to me as the $100 donors:

"You do not know me, but I just received an email from my uncle Ike that explained your need for your trip. Though I am a Christian and do not share in your religious beliefs, I did make a small donation as I support your efforts and the humanitarian work that you are doing. I hope that you raise enough money to cover your expenses and I will be praying for safe travels for all of you as you make your way to Poland and back."

This process is about getting diverse groups involved and creating peace.