Finding Inspiration in Shared Values

Every week I take the same spin through the grocery store. Run past the deli counter, grateful that I don’t have to stop and stand in the seemingly endless line to buy the Empire roast turkey for school lunches. (I love my kids, I just hated waiting in the deli line and am glad that portion of my life is in the past.) Weave in and out of the aisles, checking items off my list. Last week, though, I pulled up short as I rolled into what, the week before, had been the Valentine’s Day chocolate aisle. Instead — Passover!

 

My reaction was almost the same as when the Christmas decorations go up before Thanksgiving — all I could think was, “It’s not even Purim!” When I took a look at this week’s parasha (Torah reading), it all made sense because we are starting the special Shabbat readings that lead up to Passover. I don’t think the grocery manager at the supermarket realized this, but nevertheless, I felt the power of the Jewish calendar at work.

 

For 3,000 years, the rhythms of Jewish life have carried us around the calendar and through the cycles of life. We are part of a repeating circle of Torah readings, holiday preparation, soul searching, and celebration of community. Participating in this cycle is part of what has held the Jewish people together for centuries. The traditions have been handed down through the generations, each generation interpreting them a little differently, adding their own stamp and keeping Judaism a living, breathing, growing organism.

 

I was reminded of this in a different way when I had the privilege of participating in the closing session of UJC MetroWest’s Borinsky in the A.M. program. The official title of the program is the Arthur Borinsky Young Leadership Development Program. The program was originally established as part of the Young Leadership Development campaign, and the six-week series was held in the evening.

 

Three years ago, the program was extended to the Young Women’s campaign. The evening and morning sessions have been extremely successful, both in educating the participants in what we mean by “Federation” and in identifying emerging leaders for the future of our community. For six straight weeks, the participants learn from lay leadership and Federation professionals about all of the various facets of our MetroWest community, including a “speed-dating” session with our local agencies, a session on our involvement in Israel and around the world, the balance between our responsibility to repair the world, and to care for our Jewish community, and much more.

 

The closing session of Borinsky in the A.M. is devoted to reflection on what the participants have learned and how best to share their experience with friends. In listening to the 12 women who made up this year’s A.M cohort, I was struck by how much what they had to say resonated with my feelings when I was first starting out in Women’s Philanthropy some 20 years ago. (Really? Has it been that long? I attended my first event when my daughter was two, and now she is 22. I’m not that good at math, but even I can get that one.)

 

These are women with young kids — nursery and elementary school, mostly — who are looking for adult ways to engage with Jewish tradition and Jewish “doing.” They want to understand what their Jewish community does and what it stands for. And, most importantly, they want to find other people who are looking for the same thing. Whether they were raised here in MetroWest or moved here from someplace else, these women know that being a part of the larger Jewish circle — and the cycles of Jewish life — are important to them and to their families.

 

As our hostess for the morning, Terri Friedman, a Women’s Philanthropy vice president, pointed out, it is these shared values that link the women of MetroWest together. I have friends from Women’s Philanthropy of all ages and from one end of this (growing) community to the other. If not for my participation in Women’s Philanthropy, I wouldn’t know most of them.

 

How much richer my life is because I have these amazing, dedicated, fun-loving, Israel-loving, women in my world? And now I have 12 new women to add to that group — I am so looking forward to seeing what they do next. I am so grateful to Taryn Berelowitz and Eve Sorkin, who chaired Borinsky in the A.M. (after being participants themselves just the year before!) and Jody Caplan, vice president of Young Women's Campaign, for acting as the guides to our new friends.

 

If you are interested in participating next year, let us know! Contact Stacey Brown, sbrown@ujcnj.org, or Robin Leitner, rleitner@ujcnj.org and you too could be off on your first step into one of the most rewarding Jewish journeys we have to offer!

 

You never know what you’re going to find at the grocery store, including an inspiration — happy shopping!

 

Leslie

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