A year ago, I was planning a $5000 fundraiser to bring five BSTYGgers to NFTY's National Convention in Los Angeles, and preparing for an amazing school year full of potential, growth (both personal and professional) and activities. While looking for full-time jobs, I had no idea that I would be completely crossing the country into a world that is completely different than the one I've always known and a job that would challenge me and bring me immense joy (both personal and professional!).
Preparing to leave my one-square mile, one stop-light village, I knew that there were steps I was going to have to take to prepare myself to leave my comfort zone--packing in the middle of Hurricane Sandy was no joke, especially leaving power for a week--saying goodbye to friends, to my things, to my car. Realizing that I would be leaving my students, my daily routine, and my own personal Jewish communities.
In the last nine months, I have been to Israel twice, driven a twelve passenger van (through ice), hung up pictures, built furniture (and had people judge them and rebuild), choose wall colors, choose furniture, choose opportunities, network, create "meal missions," and have more debriefs over activities, interactions, and goal-setting than I can count. But most of the life-changing moments in the past few months I haven't really "prepared for."
I've had Webex trainings, supervision, and my own pension for color-coding, graphic maps, and organization habits...but I could never really be prepared to scale two mountains in two days in Israel and then lead a service in a park with severely bruised muscles. I was not prepared to be asked to partake in my students' b'nei mitzvot services when they had me read Torah in Jerusalem. I was not prepared to handle a student facing a parent's heart attack at 1:15 in the morning at Institute and to join in an immediate Tehilim session to bring him comfort. I was not prepared to begin a running program (and to run even during Institute!).
I may not have been fully prepared, but I was READY. I was willing to meet the challenges, willing to overcome adversity. As I am preparing for this year, I realize that there will be gaps and mistakes, things that I may have overlooked or forgotten. But I am so READY for this year to be an amazing one--for students to find themselves in situations which challenge and inspire them, for the Eugene community to realize what a diverse and incredible Jewish center these students have created, and for leadership to keep extending outwards as more and more students step up and take ownership of programs, conversations, relationships, and learning experiences.
I am ready. I am psyched. I am enthusiastic. And progressively, I am preparing myself to be better, to be present, to be engaging. We are preparing to further the vibrant Jewish life on campus--one step at a time, one meeting, one moment, we're excited. And we're ready. Welcome back #Elul.