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Although this is a crazy kind of region, I occasionally come across pockets of some deep logic which I appreciate and to which I can relate. Take the days of the week for example. Saturday is Sembu, also known as Sabbat, or Shabbat. How wonderful. Then the days of the Kurdish week unfold in a biblical fashion: Shabbat (and) one, Ek Sembu, Shabbat (and) two Du Sembu and so on. The Kurds kind of became stuck when it came to Friday and broke with their pattern using a word that is not related to the rest of the week, Heyni or Eyni depending upon one’s region but apart from that, Shabbat, Sembu was carried throughout the week.

Thinking of the presence of Sembu throughout the week took me back to another of my favorite “friends", Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who wrote “The work on weekdays and the rest on the seventh day are correlated. The Sabbath is the inspirer, the other days, the inspired.”

This week I will share with you a photographic journey of our inspired days this past week. Our week has been, as always, varied but as I browsed the myriad photos that we all take and share, I realized how many lives are being healed, and how many lives are being touched with radical joy as we journey through our week. There are indeed days of amazement, days of great wonder and gratitude, days when the heat is unbearable that it is enough to just be, and in that being there is blessing. Days when an idea that we bounced around as we box up chicken and rice, begins to take on a life of its own. Days when as we pause to look again, we realize that a sculpture or a project, began with just one thin word. There are days when we are low, heavy, disappointed but chose to pick ourselves up and keep going, because we saw a smile, heard the sound of laughter, because a former student returned with words of thanks. Days when the wonder and surprise break in and override all the difficulties.


Ek Sembu. Shabbat (and) one.

“Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things, without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all, I ask only to share the wonder of it all.” - Heschel.

Lunch going out to survivors of the fire

Psychological trauma debrief with camp police

First aid emergency response with camp police

Photography class

Play Therapy

Girl's spa afternoon


Du Sembu. Shabbat (and) two.

“Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends as a deed.” - Heschel.

From the garden


Ice blocks to keep the bottles of water cool that we give the victims of the fire.

Havand firing up the pans to cook lunch for the fire victims.

English class online

Computer class

Khaton's birthday party

Idea for a new sculpture to commemorate the 7 year memorial


Se Sembu. Shabbat (and) three:

“We can all do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities, frustrations and all disappointments.” Heschel, “I Asked for Wonder.”

English Online Class

Grapes and sunflowers from the garden

Lunch prep and distribution to victims of the fire

Tent visits


Car Sembu. Shabbat (and) four:

"Awe enables us to see in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in the small things the beginning of infinite significance." Heschel, “Who is Man?”

Boys Day Out and BBQ


Suicide Awareness

New sculpture completed


Penc Sembu. Shabbat (and) five:

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” Heschel, “Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity.”

Building of the Fountain of Hope

Uncle Hassan working in the garden

Debriefing victims of the fire

Early Learning

Classes: Photography, Computer and Art

Music: Guitar

Music: Traditional Yezidi Instruments



“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” - Genesis.

Rest Day


Sembu. Sabbat:

“The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.” Heschel. The Sabbath.

Daybreak in the garden

Football championship

Play therapy

English class

Computer class

Handmade designer bags


We hope that as we pull back the curtains just a little, enough for you see a glimpse of our days which go from Sembu to Sembu that you will allow yourself too, to be filled with wonder and awe at the journey that these kids, those termed “refugees”, “asylum seekers”. “rescued kids” are on, a journey which marks them out and distinguishes them from any other “refugee”, simply because they too have become captivated by wonder.

For those of you who are praying people, please take another moment to ponder the writings of Rabbi Heschel, the Polish born theologian and prophetic writer “Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. Prayer can not bring water to parched fields, or mend a broken bridge or rebuild a ruined city: but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, a rebuild a weakened will.”

Pray that each of our days will be a Sembu plus one, two, three or five...days where the inspiration of the divine pours over into our human world, and together let’s believe both for the rebuilding of weakened wills and broken bridges.



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