Ideal or not, our homes are a symbol of our values and our culture. For me, home is a reflection of the places I have been, the person that I’ve become, and the hopes and dreams that I have yet to fulfill.
Yes, it’s true. My profession is all about helping people transform their houses into homes so that they are functional and beautiful, comfortable and welcoming. And I do enjoy almost every minute of it. But when I really think about the meaning of the word “Home” I can not help but reflect on the spirit and the soul of the word itself.
In Hebrew, the actual word for Home is “bayit” and Jewish life revolves around two institutions: the home and the community. Each is endowed with unique meaning, and between them – the private and the public – there is an obligation to live consciously and deliberately, every single day. The word bayit is even more richly evocative because it is also how the Rabbis referred to the two ancient Temples in Jerusalem, during the Talmudic era. And so it is that the word Home refers to both my physical and my spiritual spaces.
The Jewish marriage ceremony itself is centered on these two institutions – home and community. The “Chuppah” or marriage canopy, symbolizes the home that the bride and groom are about to create. Traditionally a cloth canopy supported by four poles, it is open on each side, to welcome family and friends without any barriers. This “home” initially lacks furniture, as a reminder that the basis of a Jewish home is the people within it and not their possessions. The breaking of the glass, which ends the Jewish marriage ceremony, speaks specifically to the institution of community. It is for this reason, repairing the world or in Hebrew, “tikkun olam” that the bride and groom are creating a home in the first place. They are uniting in marriage to put the shattered glass back together again, as a team, to make their community a better place.
Home is not just a physical place. It’s a subjective and spiritual concept – an emotional space and a set of commitments that define me. Home is the daily reminder of the loving family that I have created and links me to the communities that I also serve. I often wander away from those inner spaces. But right now I have definitely returned, grateful for the Home that I have designed and all of the building that needs to get done.