by Mary Eshet
The New Moon this month comes with a special glow – the Da Vinci glow, also known as Earthshine. This event can only be seen when there’s a crescent moon on the horizon at sunrise or sunset. During this phenomenon, the crescent part of the moon glows brightly, and the dark side of the moon is visible as an overcast. Some say the “new moon” is holding the “old moon.”
While each month’s tiny new moon crescent brings the promise of growing light and things to come, the Da Vinci glow gives us an even greater hint at what awaits us as the moon waxes.
Our planning session at the Stan Greenspon Center earlier this month was a lot like this lunar treat. We dreamed big about how we can further the Center’s mission “to prepare people to respond to prejudice and discrimination with actions advocating human rights for all” through education and special programs. We created a bright planning crescent, and can visualize the fullness of the year ahead.
We recommitted to the four branches of our mission: Social Justice and Organizing, Holocaust Education, Multicultural Connections, and Jewish Studies. We have amazing opportunities to offer in the year ahead, such as our Fall Signature Community Class on Holocaust and Jim Crow History, and our Facing History Professional Development Program. We are excited to launch the second cohort of our Certification in Holocaust Pedagogy Program and the second cohort of our Social Justice and Community Organizing Certification class. Our second cohort of the Black/Jewish Alliance is well under way, and we hope to launch a third group this year.
We look forward to once again hosting a community event to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, the Soul Food Shabbat in Winter 2024, and the inaugural “Pickleball for Peace” event planned for next month (June 25).
Antisemitism and all kinds of hate and injustice continue to rise at alarming rates. This month we collaborated with the Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art to host an exhibition reception for sculptor Roy Strassberg’s “Fragmented” show. As described on the gallery’s website, Strassberg’s “thoughtfully crafted vessels and formations are living archives of remembrance – visual homages to one of the most heinous and unimaginable events in world history, an event that extinguished the lives of approximately 6 million Jews.” In the q&a moderated by Judy La Pietra, assistant director of the Greenspon Center, Strassberg said we are all called to “tikkun olam” – to repair the world. No one can fix everything, but we must each do what we can.
At the Greenspon Center, we focus on “capacity building.” We seek to prepare individuals who have the opportunity to reach larger audiences with the tools and knowledge to respond to prejudice and discrimination. We teach teachers, so they can teach others about the Holocaust and help ensure “never again.” We certify community organizers so they can carry forward dreams to advance social justice. We sponsor the Black/Jewish Alliance so participants can build relationships across difference and spread knowledge. We create and lead programs in hopes participants glean insights and information they can share with their friends and family. We offer Jewish studies not only to Queens University students, but to the community, in order to bring ancient wisdom to bear on today’s issues.
Da Vinci understood that the illumination of the dark side of the moon came not from the sun, but from Earth. He believed it resulted from light reflecting off the Earth’s oceans. Later research from NASA showed he was right that the glow comes from Earth. However, the glow emanates not from the oceans, but from the clouds.
There are days when the darkness of hate and injustice threaten to overwhelm us. The Da Vinci glow, Earthshine, reminds us that even the clouds of despair can cast a glow that reveals a full orb of light beyond even the smallest crescent. Join us at the Greenspon Center as we seek to illuminate a crescent that leads to greater impact and a lighter world.