I look back on a year ago when I was in Ramat Bet Shemesh, when I was with Rabbi Bryks (my NCSY regional director and Bar Ilan program director) for Simchat Torah. I remember it was my first time in a long time celebrating the renewal of the Torah. I remember almost crying just watching the men dance around with the Torah but stepping back and looking away to prevent the tears from falling. I always did that when I was about to get really emotional in high school anytime I encountered something that had to to with Judaism; I pushed it right away.
|A line in my journal from 9/30/10 "I love this Jewish life and cannot wait to see what it has in store for me" right after Simchat Torah|
But I know that this time last year kick-started an inspirational year that that set my foundation and led me to where I am today and where I am going. So fast forward a year and I found myself in Paramus, New Jersey.
Torah Tours is a project that YU's CJF recently started. YU students sign up (with or without friends) than are put on a team to be sent to a random community (from the local NY congregation to Scotland) to vamp up the communities shmini atzeret and simchat torah. I was sent with two other girls and one other guy to Paramus, NJ to a modern orthodox congregation.
The whole experience was overall great. We gave divrei Torah, interacted with the families, and just brought all around spirit to the holiday. In turn, I learned a lot about my self and other people.
One main thing I learned though is that everyone needs inspiration. No matter how old you are, there will not be in a time in your life where you will not be totally content. You may be happy, but you will need more happiness fuel that I'd like to say is inspiration. We gave a women's program on Simchat Torah when all the men were receiving aliyot and even though I liked my D'var Torah, I liked my friend Judy's more. She in short said that when Hashem told Moses to give over the Torah to the Jewish people, Moses answered that how could he tell it to them, he had a speech impediment, how could people take him seriously? But-he did it anyways and to this day what we heard from Moshe on that day, we still are using to this day. She went on to say that even if we may have flaws (we all do!) we have to look past those flaws, and even use them in our advantage. You have the power to make a difference, in the Jewish world or not, no matter how big your speech impediment or flaw may be.
I also learned that when you begin to judge someone, you have to step back and think what is it that you are judging them about? When you really analyze it, you'll see that you are really just insecure about something about yourself and want to dump that insecurity on someone else. Lets say you think that someone thinks that they know everything and it really bothers you-really whats bothering you is that you think you know everything-it's hard to man up and admit it, but in the end-your judgement of others will always be a judgement on your deepest insecurities.
And lastly, inspire to be inspired. Once I told part of my story to this one women Jackie, she in turn told me her story of how she didn't know anything about Judaism, but felt that she was missing something. Then one day she ended up in a Persian shul on Yom Kippur (she also didn't know anything about her heritage) and heard the cantor singing and broke down and cried. That is what she was missing she told me. As much as we may have given to this amazing community, it was equally received.
The whole time was really amazing-the Rabbi, Rabbi Daniel Wolff and his wife Chaviva and his kids were amazing, the hosts that had us over for meals all had amazing stories, and the all around environment left me on a familiar spiritual high that I had gotten in Israel (something very hard to come across not in Israel). I'm excited to be finally getting into what I temporarily returned from Israel to do-Kiruv and everything alike.
I hope everyone has amazing new year, and finds the happiness fuel they are need.