In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 3, 2006 / 7 Tamuz, 5766

Graduation day from the other side of the street

By Mitch Albom

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was a graduation. It was June. The ceiling fans spun overhead and the microphone squeaked when a young woman began to speak.

"Before I came here," she said, "I was a student. ..."

She paused. The crowd listened patiently, some fanning themselves against the heat.

"I was a student addicted to cocaine and marijuana. And I was an alcoholic. ..."

Many nodded.

"My attendance decreased, I had no self esteem. ... I was just a lost soul. ..."

More nods. A yell of encouragement.

"Today, I have the tools to lead a successful, productive, sober life. ..."


"I have a 4.0 grade-point average, I have perfect attendance, and my self-esteem has skyrocketed. ..."

The crowd roared. Some jumped to their feet. The young woman smiled proudly.

It was a graduation. It was June. But this was not high school or college. This was an afternoon last week at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, a shelter, the school of hard knocks. The "graduates" had lasted 90 days in a treatment program, or five to nine months in treatment and vocational training, or two years of transitional housing with hopes of a place of their own.

All, at one point, had been homeless.

One after another they came forward, dressed nicely or dressed as nicely as they could. Although there was no formal diploma, you would never have missed it. Each of the graduates, some young, some old, some old before their time, took the microphone and said his or her name proudly. Some added "praise Jesus" or "praise be to God." They shook hands with a few dignitaries.

There was no pomp and circumstance. But there was a choir and an organ player. There were no scholarships awarded. But there were trays of food, which no on took for granted. And while no valedictorian was chosen based on grade-point average, several people did tell their stories.

One man pointed to an open door that led outside and remembered a time when "I stayed on the third floor" of an abandoned building "right out there" across the street.

"That was my winter house, and my summer home," he said.

Today, he has a real place.

And a job as a chef.

Such a small distance.

And all the distance in the world.

Although this time of year we celebrate our young people's achievements — graduation parties, special trips — we should remember that for many people, education is a day-by-day challenge, and getting straight is as big a deal as getting good grades.

The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries — just one of many wonderful organizations dedicated to helping our homeless get back on track — provides 87,000 nights of shelter every year for people with no place to go.

Think about that figure. Eighty-seven thousand. That's nearly 240 people a night who have to sleep in a bed that is not their own, being handed blankets, pillows, a bar of soap, a warm meal. And that's just one organization.

Perhaps you say, "Why don't they get a job?"

Have you checked our economy lately?

Besides, before you can work, you need skills, before you get skills, you need a basic education, and before you can do any of that, you have to be free of drugs, alcohol or other dependencies that can cripple you. It's easy, too easy, to see our homeless as bad people who are lost. It's harder to see them as good people who have lost their way.

But to sit in the audience of last week's graduation is to know the latter is the better approach. It's true, not too many of the folks stepping through the aisles of chairs knew much about calculus. And none had written a dissertation.

But they survived things that have killed others, and they made a choice to improve, to find work, to earn a room of their own.

And I don't think I've seen a more moving graduation in my life.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

"The Five People You Meet in Heaven"  

A novel that explores the unexpected connections of our lives, and the idea that heaven is more than a place; it's an answer. Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on Mitch's column by clicking here.

Mitch's Archives