Last week during the youth service here at Temple Anshe Amunim, I marveled at the sheer amount of children up on the bima. They were in the age range of 5- 16 and there were 20 of them. Significantly more than I ever knew in my time in the religious school. It struck me as my mom was explaining all the new things occurring here that this place is changing. The classrooms are classrooms again, there is an actual religious school, and everything seems to be growing. There will even be a pre school again. Times are indeed changing.
As we approach the New Year of 2013, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a bit about change. It is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, well most times in fact, change is good. For instance, this weeks torah portion talks about Joseph. If he is not the ultimate symbol for change then who is? He was cast out by his family and made change. He was lucky in that his change came from his natural gift for interpreting dreams. He capitalized on this and made better life for himself. In the portion it says that even though he was betrayed and sold as a slave by his own brothers, once he recognized them he was full of forgiveness as he saw that they too had changed. For the better. They had realised their errors and repented and thought only of their father. This was a significant change.
Most of us are not lucky enough to have such unique natural abilities as Joseph did. Unlike Joseph, we must make changes from nothing. But is it really nothing? Do we all have a spark of the divine within us? Is that what natural gifts are? Is it then our duty to listen to that spark or gift and make the changes that we need? This is not an easy thing to do, because it is only natural that once we get where we are we like to stay the course. The easy thing is to just continue on the track even when you know a change is needed. The hard part is finding the motivation to get off the track and make the change. The struggle is when we know that change is needed but continue to fight that change.
There have been many changes made in my life since I last spoke here this time last year. While I still work at URJ Eisner Camp, my role has changed significantly. Since last year, I have started working their essentially full time as I now host weekend events there throughout the off season. This has been an amazing experiences in the amount of people I have been able to meet and the experiences I have gained from it. I have hosted groups from Congregations large and small, new camper orientations and mother/daughter weekends. Just last week I worked at the Board Retreat.
More so, because of my skills, I have been able to make another significant change in my role at camp. I applied for a senior staff position at camp this summer, more specifically, the Assistant Adventure Director. Having been Adventure Staff for the past two years, it seemed to be the time. Like Joseph, I recognized an opportunity to better myself because of my abilities and I took it. Was their risk involved? Definitely. Did I put myself out there to change the peoples perception of me, and therefore have to look at myself in a different light? Also definitely. Was it hard? Actually, not as much as I thought. I have been well prepared for leadership and for this I look to Temple Anshe Amunim. The lessons and skills I learned while here last to this day. I learned to be flexible, be responsible and to look to my faith and my community for guidance and support. I look to my family and friends for their views and then make my own decisions. This community helped me to learn to make changes while still holding on to my integrity and faith.
What do I hope can be achieved from this speech? While it is never easy, change is usually for the better. Don’t be afraid. Listen to your heart, your soul or your inner spark. Call it whatever you want, but I think it is a force that will help. Do not ever settle for the same old thing. If you are unhappy in your current state, I urge you to change it, even if it is something as simple as eating together as a family(biological or not) or switching up your exercise plan. If anything can be learned from the horrible deaths at Sandy Creek Elementary School, it is that life is too short. Be like Joseph, live a life of integrity that works for you and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to make the changes that will help you to to take your dreams to next level.