Akron JCC

Albert L. and Janet A. Schultz Campus for Jewish Life in Akron. 

The Elder Wisdom Academy will bring Ojibwe activist Sharon Day to The Shaw JCC’s Schultz Campus for Jewish Life for a March 17 community Shabbat service hosted by Beth El Congregation and a Kosher Shabbat dinner at the JCC.

The event is a collaboration between many local campus entities, including the Jewish Community Board of Akron, the JCC, Beth El Congregation, The Lippman School, Jewish Family Services of Akron, Elder Wisdom Academy and the Rubber City Jews.

“(Sharon is) the founder and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, and she will be talking about what is called a water walk, or in their language, Nibi,” Angela Miller, community engagement coordinator at The Lippman School, told the Akron Jewish News. “And water walks are focused on and implemented in faith: faith in water spirits, faith in the earth, faith in human kind and faith in the power of love,” she said.

Day, an Ojibwe elder from Minnesota, has previously led a water walk blessing at the Cuyahoga River and will lead another March 18 starting at Cascade Lofts following an exhibitor fair and interactive workshop hosted by the Community Life Collaborative and Living Water Association.

Miller said Beth El Congregation Rabbi Jeremy Lipton will lead the service from

6 to 7 p.m., followed by a meal in the auditorium. Day will address the group at 7:45 with time at the end for questions and answers.

“I’m hoping at the Q and A, Rabbi Lipton will also share about the water traditions in the Jewish faith because the Elder Wisdom Academy strives to make that connection between the two ancient cultures and some of their practices,” said Miller, a resident of Akron.

John Bennett, embedded technology specialist at The Lippman School, told the AJN how the Elder Wisdom Academy was formed after Miller approached the school regarding it’s longstanding relationship with the Northern Cheyenne nation in Montana.

“She was drawn to learn more about what we do with the Northern Cheyenne,” said Bennett, a resident of Copley. “And with those experiences, it then brought out a need for us to take a serious look at elderhood here from a western culture point of view, and how can we help our elders, or people that are moving into elderhood, be able to make the transition from that full work experience to something that, for somebody like me, is still work, but it’s loving what I’m doing and being more involved within the community and giving back to the community.”

Bennett and Miller spoke about the similarities between the Jewish culture and Native American culture, including both having sacred languages, being from tribes, holding elders and land to high importance, facing a history of persecution, and retaining traditions even in a diaspora.

As The Lippman School students go to the Northern Cheyenne reservation every other year, Bennett said, “Many times the Jewish students will vocalize seeing the similarities that we just talked about between the Northern Cheyenne and the Jewish culture.”