Saturday, May 16, 2015

#BlogBOmer: Hod B'Hod (Lag B'Omer!)

The next seven or so blogs are inexcusably I won't make excuses for them! Apologies for the delays, but expect that this weekend will act as a catch up as we enter into the end of the Omer with the next week...

This special Lag B'Omer (the name sake for #BlogBOmer) post is a mystery one. It goes out to 33 different mystery people. If you happen to think that you fall into one of the categories, "Like, Favorite, or Retweet or +1. If any of these inspire you, share the post with someone and let them guess their own mystery number! Chances are...these inspirations are due to more than one person. Here goes...

#1. I am humbled by the way that you speak to people with grace, understanding, and compassion.

#2. I am humbled by the way you're able to turn the darkest day into the greatest joke.

#3. I am humbled by the way you can find the perfect GIF or meme for any occasion.

#4. I am humbled by the tenacious way in which you lead.

#5. I am humbled by the way you are NOT afraid to have the difficult conversations.

#6. I am humbled by your seemingly endless effort to get the job done.

#7. I am humbled by your creativity, your candor, and your caring.

#8. I am humbled by your wisdom, and your humility around it.

#9. I am humbled by your patience for yourself and for everyone around you.

#10. I am humbled by your sass and your sense of humor.

#11. I am humbled by your enthusiasm and abundant energy.

#12. I am humbled by your ability to always put aside five minutes to listen.

#13. I am humbled by your brevity and your ability to make so few words so meaningful.

#14. I am humbled by how you were able to take me outside my own comfort zone.

#15. I am humbled by your grace, the way you move with such surety.

#16. I am humbled by your agility, the way you move with such freedom.

#17. I am humbled by your love, the way you are able to share it with so many around you.

#18. I am humbled by your silence, your ability to think before you speak and not say it.

#19. I am humbled by your stories, the way you weave them into life.

#20. I am humbled by your sense of direction, both on the road and in life.

#21. I am humbled by your sense of confidence, and how sure you are in your choices.

#22. I am humbled by your due diligence, the research you put into the choices you make.

#23. I am humbled by your organization, how everything has its perfect place.

#24. I am humbled by your minimalism, the realization that not every memory must be tangible.

#25. I am humbled by your kindness and your understanding without a word.

#26. I am humbled by your ability to remind me of years of memories with a single picture.

#27. I am humbled by your ability to teach me when I thought I was teaching you.

#28. I am humbled by your acceptance of my apology when I've made a mistake.

#29. I am humbled by your encouragement and engagement when I might hide myself otherwise.
#30. I am humbled by your easy laughter, when I know what seriousness lies beneath it.
#31. I am humbled by the way you make every moment beautiful and bold.
#32. I am humbled by your strength and the way you use it to protect/inspire others.
#33. I am humbled by your secrets, especially those you have chosen to share with me.

So many of you inspire me. So many of you have so many secret hidden yet still appreciated qualities. So much more than 33 of you are recognized in this post. My love to all who read it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

#BlogBOmer: Netzach B'Hod

While I meant to write this post earlier in the day, I'm still happy that I'm semi-on time with this particular blog (for once? for twice?). As we're working towards the end of the school year (only a few more weeks loves!), I kept thinking about who I think embodies the combination of netzach (endurance) and hod (humility). It's a strange thing to think about a quiet strength, that humility in and of itself is a strength, and that the quiet, thoughtful groups of people are the ones who often have a strong and lasting presence in the end. It occurred to me quickly that this particular blog should be dedicated to (especially as it's been inspired by) my OSU Hillel students.

Our Seder was cooler than your Seder (Photo Cred: Me)

From my first steps on OSU's campus, to biweekly visits (minus a month or so for double pneumonia!) to our first shared Passover Seder, this hard-working and dedicated group of students comes together not for the credit, but for the love of creating community among Jewish students at Oregon State University. We have put hours of conversations into bagel brunches, newly formed board meetings, flyer creating, tabling scheduling, and inviting friends, yarmulke-wearing strangers, and interested bystanders into a growing and vibrant Jewish community in Corvallis.

Ellie is a born tabler (but the others ain't bad either!) (Photo Cred: Me)

The road to success is not an easy one. Twists and turns, obstacles and opposition may stand in our way at times. But we interact with everyone with a smile--we want every student to feel at home in the Jewish community on campus, whether it's grabbing a Laffy Taffy from our table (of course we tabled on the hottest day of the year thus far!), meeting up at the MU for an impromptu indoor bubble wand fight, or talking about potential summer jobs for students in their hometowns, Oregon State Hillel students want to hear all about you. (Marathon sentence). By working together and approaching our leadership with a special sense of humility, we are restructuring our board to reach a greater cross-section of students--every person has a part to play and leadership opportunities are endless for those students who want to play a part in the process. 

I am honored by the time that I get to spend with these students, those who realize that "it is not the position that honors the person, but rather the person who honors the position." They are going places and their Shabbat on Campus is going to be stellar (as will their end of year Picnic in the Park!). I am very proud of you OSU students--thanks for a stellar year!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#BlogBOmer: Tiferet B'Hod

While technically the new day has started, this is the post that I would have written this morning/afternoon. Tiferet (an amazing sefirah that can be translated as beauty, balance, compassion, harmony) combined with Hod (humility) is how I would describe a community organizer, a force to be reckoned with. Whether it's interacting with fellow professors, community members, students, or her ever-so-appreciate Oregon Hillel staff, Reut L-T embodies this particular combination extremely well.

Reut & S volunteering at FFLC (Photo Cred: ME!)

Reut is much more than a friend to me, she has become an adopted family member, something that's sorely needed when you move across the country from your actual family! While there is so so much that I could write about, I decided to give a Top 5 for why Reut deserves this particular blog post.

5. Reut is an incredible pre-Birthright educator. Reut has one session of every Birthright pre-trip orientation rounds since I started at Oregon Hillel in November 2012. Utilizing her love of images (she's an incredible photographer), Reut recognizes the beauty that Israel has to offer and the different perspectives that each unique photograph gives to our own students. She always aims to be compassionate and balances the class she teaches to the needs of her students: she is always up for a challenge and always ready to challenge others.

4. Reut loves all things art-related. This is more of a concentration on beauty. Reut will sit with me for hours (and smile as she starts and finishes her second project in the time it takes me to do one) and paint pottery, head to the Hult Center to enjoy comedians, color pages that I've brought her, and does it all with a smile. While she probably won't admit it (there's the humility), she's an incredible artist and I love seeing her creations come to life as gifts for her loved ones. 

3. Reut loves Ellie. You need to have a decent sense of balance between accepting craziness and adoring sweetness in order to truly, truly love Ellie. However, Ellie is always welcome in Reut's house (and shout out to Izar who treats her as his own!) to play around with her boxer boyfriend (hi Hammy!) and shower S with kisses! Ellie is always given her own treats, water dish, and lots of love from Reut and family--when Ellie had her emergency surgery, it was Reut who distracted me with breakfast and hours of art therapy. 

2. Reut is an incredible community organizer and teacher. Every student I've met that's had a class with Reut (in fact, most people who have ever had a conversation with her) tell me that she is an incredible professor and community member, teaching everyone she interacts with in her own positive and personal way. Whether she's introducing me to friends from Boston when I accidentally crash a family BBQ or bringing flowers to graduating seniors at Shabbat or volunteering with S at Food for Lane County, Reut's presence brings a type of harmony to those around her. Again, she's probably denying this, but that's the humility talking--ask anyone, she's pretty awesome.

1. Reut made me the only food I could eat when sick. When I came down with double pneumonia (that's pneumonia in both lungs that hits you REALLY hard), Reut made me food and did grocery runs for me, bringing me cough drops, soup, and a lasagna. At the time, I couldn't keep anything down and had very little appetite. She requested that I have small pieces of lasagna at a time, freezing the majority and coming back to it later. It was the only thing I could eat when I was ill. And that was a beautiful thing.

While this blog may be one of my longest (the "bullet points" were meant to make it shorter, whoops!), it's worth it. Reut, thank you for EVERYTHING you've done. And tell Izar not to worry...his post is coming up soon enough :-)

#BlogBOmer: Gevurah B'Hod

This post again goes out to a new friend, but a brilliant one. I met this person in August at Taglit Fellows and was lucky enough to get into a very long, very detailed conversation one night outside on the hotel bar's deck. Since then, we have shared countless in-flight text messages, Facebook conversations, and one pneumonia-filled phone call (thanks for the patience!). For Gevurah B'Hod, I was inspired by the work and creativity of Ari P!

 Hanging tight....(Photo Cred: STOLEN, it's Ari's cover photo)

To be fair, most of our conversations begin over four subjects: the students we have in common (many of my UO students have been involved with Ari in Ramah in some way), my dog Ellie (he has plans to steal her one day when I'm not looking), what flight/airport/city we're currently on/in, and Jewish education. Ari has a large amount of experience in all of these areas, and he's often one of the first people that I'll turn to when turning over a new initiative/challenge/program in my head. 

Why discipline? Ari has a passion for what he does, ensuring that creativity and discipline intermingle with each and every task he takes on. From posting enough photos/videos from his most recent MOL visit (so much so that I felt I was there!) to pushing forward my #BlogBOmer initiative to his own friends (and then texting me a picture of someone's first post!), to coming up with creative marketing, there's a precision and dedication to everything he does. Seeking out a creative Jewish text? He has it in his back pocket--and a great way to connect it to your intended audience. 

Why humility? Because he's not about the accolades. In fact, he's more excited when there's a student we have in common coming to work for Ramah then about what his plans are for the camp schedules and strategies this summer! Ari is about building relationships with others (and building them up) but rarely takes compliments that come his way with pride (or at all!). While he's probably rolling his eyes and shaking his head at this post for the third time by now, Ari knows that he's got strengths in building discipline in others, promoting only the best in those that learn and work beside him. He would probably also be shocked to know that he had a profound influence on my own Taglit Fellows experience, but for anyone that's headed to Ramah in the Rockies, know this: as hard as he works, he's also got jokes!

To Ari: Thanks for all of the wit, intelligence, and laughs/plane rides shared. Happy that you're home!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#BlogBOmer: Chesed B'Hod

Stilllllllllll behind. But that's okay. No, really. You're just stoked that I've written another blog post, right? (Right). We're technically in the midst of Week 5 right now (with our big celebration of Lag B'Omer around the corner!), but I'm still at Day 1 of Week 5, so we're concentrating on Chesed (Acts of loving-kindness) in the area of Hod (humility or even secret). I dedicate this particular blog post to someone who calls me a "sister from another mister" (and who I love ever so dearly!), to the lovely Lihi G.!

Look at that gorgeous girl!

Lihi is yet another Birthright buddy that Hillel International paired me up with in December 2013--and I'm ever so thankful that they did! From the moment we were paired up, we began emailing, chatting during trainings, planning out fun times, Skyping with our tour guide (shout out to Itay!), and scheming out what our night before the trip would look like! The first night in Lihi's apartment, I got a glimpse of what her chesed looked like: we created milim hayom (words of the day) that we thought would make all of our students laugh (and learn!), talked about Shabbat programming, burned CDs for the bus, and groaned about the fact that we would have to be up in about three hours (all the while Lihi was also packing and in between folding repeating "Magniv...magniv...magniv...."

Once the trip started, I was amazed by Lihi's passion, tenacity, and enthusiasm. Whether she was joking with students, dancing down the bus aisle, or flirting with salespeople in the shuk, Lihi had a smile and a kind word for everyone she met. She also has a fierce intellect, a sharp tongue, and a quick wit--but you don't get to realize that until you really spend time with her. Since I've met Lihi, she handles everything with such grace and humility; while she appreciates recognition for her own hard work, she is much more interested in publicizing the work of her students, fellow Israel Fellows, and peers. In fact, while she was IN Israel, she shared the #BlogBOmer challenge so that others might see it and join in. 

Everyone who meets Lihi gets to experience that secret (another definition for hod!) air of kindness and compassion that surrounds her--her love of life and adventure are contagious (even when you pair her with a risk-averse person like me!). I know that whether it's one-on-one at a conference or among thousands at an Israel mega-event, I am lucky to have gained yet another sister in my life, someone who will always look out for me and give me that secret push to succeed.

Monday, May 4, 2015

#BlogBOmer: Malchut B'Netzach

Another belated posts...but don't they say that absence makes the blogs grow better? Either way, the person who I'm dedicating this blog post to won't mind. Late to the party is better than never!

In Hillel, there are a lot of incredible people to look up to. Some are fantastic engagers, others remarkable educators, still others flawless fundraisers, and multiple managers of every type (coaches, leaders, teachers, and more). There are some rockstars out there: those people who Hillel International knows are incredible role models for newcomers and veterans alike, those people who have the ability to impact professionals on incredible levels. Luckily, one of my first introductions to the Hillel world was one of these leaders (malchut remember?) who had incredible strength of conviction and is wholeheartedly the reason that I am where I am today. This particular post goes out to an incredible blend of leadership and endurance: Susannah S.

Susannah doing what she does best: inspiring everyone around her! (Photo cred: Jessica Lott)

Without going into the details of what it is that I did that initially impressed Susannah, I can say that it was her effort and kindness that allowed me to endure through new rounds of job applications after two years, forty phone interviews, 20 final interviews, and one job offer. While I'm not working at the east-coast OSU (shout out to the WEST COAST OSU!), it was her encouragement that led me to have a phone interview with Hillel International, inevitably leading to my first phone call with The Andy, which landed me in this beautiful job situation I'm in now. 

With every conference (be it in person or phone call), I get to enjoy the honest Susannah reaction, a person who believes that leadership is found through strength, endurance, questions, patience, and an ability to clearly articulate (to yourself AND others) what it is that you want in order to move forward. She is never too busy to answer a question or debrief a session with me (or anyone else) and is always willing to volunteer her time, energy, and passion into helping others succeed. When I was speaking with Susannah about how to better myself as a professional and get the best out of the conference I was attending, she explained that if I wasn't clear on what I wanted to do and to be, that no one was going to make it clearer for me. The decisions, the focus, and the inevitable impact of Global Assembly resided with me. The conference (and my professional direction) would/will be what I make of it.

While I'm often questioning my own leadership capabilities and personal/professional endurance (I am certainly stronger now than when I first interviewed with Susannah & Co.), I am thrilled to know that I have such an awesome coach in my corner. Questions, thoughts, jokes, arguments...I'm lucky to have such a dynamo to share them all.

*Personal note to Susannah: THANK YOU for helping me find Hillel and for helping Hillel find me!

#BlogBOmer: Yesod B'Netzach

Shockingly, this post is belated (as will be the next few)...but there are reasons: like an incredible Shabbat on Campus/Muslim Student Association Big Event/Sigma Family Weekend combination, a full 24+ hours in Portland (#akwdayoff) and visits with great friends (hi Shiran!). While I'm going to be making these all up, I am trying hard to be a bit more consistent for the last few weeks of the Omer. {We'll see how this/next week goes!}

In case anyone's been keeping track, my Yesod days (bonding, foundation) have been strongly bent towards the "foundation" side, people who have helped me to become the core of who I am. Recently, when I forwarded her a copy of the Meyerhoff email that came out with this initiative, my mom was excited to read ALL of my blog posts--and my dad commented that hers would come, probably after Ellie's. Well, I'm happy to have proven him wrong. This particular post, combining yesod (bonding/foundation) in the realm of netzach (endurance, victory) goes out to the one, the only, The Mom (LGW).

The Mom adopts a lot of people, here are two of her favorite adoptees! (Photo Cred:Julie Wallick)

Before I get started, I need to come clean: I have a really great relationship with my mom. When I'm in the country, we talk about 1-2 times a day (more if I'm having a VERY. BAD. DAY.) and I usually get to start off every morning walking with Ellie and talking to the Mom. She's one of the first people I call for advice, to talk something out, to hear an opinion (even if it's wrong...mine, never hers), or to share what's happening with me or with any of my friends [read: her other adopted children]. 

But why Yesod B'Netzach for my mom? The yesod is easy: she helped make me (literally) into the person that I am today. My ability to set the table correctly, act with compassion and kindness, turn up the charm (when I feel like it), give The Look, and be a good listener is mostly due to the time spent with my Mom (some credit may be given to the Dad). She spent days and dollars teaching me to find beauty in sketching, piano lessons, needlework, and other artistic endeavors, always encouraging me to go a step further (and always willing to buy me whatever art supplies I wanted [note: I very rarely needed, but "shopping is not about need"]). Also musicals. My love for musicals? COMBINED TRAIT OF MY PARENTS, but definitely more-so the Mom. You're welcome to everyone who has ever ridden in my car and saw the first pre-set of my XM radio set to On Broadway. 

The Dad (BFW), The Mom (LGW) & The Me (AKW)

The Mom is also one of the strongest people I know. She'll disagree with me (most likely as she's reading this, she's laughing while shaking her head). A woman who has built up her own business, advised others, works 80 hours a day, has more of a social life than I do, and was elected as a village justice (her "boxing" name: Judge Mental) deserves a lot of respect to begin with. To do it all most days with a kindness and compassion about her earns her even more. My mom taught me that you don't have to step on others to be strong, in fact, it's just the opposite. The strongest people build relationships with those around them and combine strengths in order to create a better community (just as long as they're not working together on committees). My mom knows what her weaknesses are (snow shoveling, tennis courts, and Ellie), but also knows that her weaknesses are only a small part of what define her. What makes us strong as people (and what we should highlight in ourselves) is honest, courage, endurance, and the constant ability to try. Because if you never try, you'll always fail. 

It's been a very tough year for both me (and for the labradoofus). And through it all, I've been lucky to have a mom who, along with multiple daily phone calls and consistent checking of flights to Eugene, will be heading out to the EUG this week in order to celebrate Mother's Day (and maybe a little bit my finally getting past pneumonia). It is her caring, confidence, charisma, and conscience that makes her such a good candidate for yesod b'netzach-- mostly, it is the way she inspires others to become stronger at their core. 

And so, I speak for all your children (temporarily adopted or otherwise) when I say "Thanks Mom!" I'm sure you don't hear it nearly enough as you're supposed to. But hey, we're kids. We're still learning.