We’ve been back in the US now for a little over 2 months. In that time we’ve rented an apartment, purchased a car, celebrated with our entire family on the joyous occasion of Tal’s sister’s wedding, caught up with friends, begun the search for the next phase of my career and settled into a new (albeit wonky) routine. Though I didn’t set a deadline, I did promise myself that I’d find a meaningful way to return to my blog. Writing about my experiences as we traveled this past year was more than simply a way to share our adventures with our friends and family, it became a way for me to truly digest what was happening in my life.
This year, the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement, 9/11, and the passing of someone very dear to our families all came together in one week. The alignment of these events has made me especially reflective, and I find myself tremendously grateful for this particular outlet, as it’s presence has provided me with the space to develop my thoughts through my finger tips.
The beginning of a new year is always inspiring and thought-provoking. And though very different, the same can be said on the somber occasions when life forces us to find a way to say goodbye or to remember those taken so early, and so unfairly. It would be a sin to let a new year unfold without reflection, and equally shameful to not honor the lessons of those who are living on in our memories.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how deeply my perspective on this is influenced by my relationship with Judaism. I was taught, as a basic tenet of my religion, that there is infinitely more strength and beauty in the harmonies of an off-key choir, than even the most pitch-perfect solo. The way that I understand this, and have always experienced it, is that there is a distinctly spiritual power that comes from being part of a community, not just during those occasions when you need it most, but on the most ordinary of days as well.
The Jewish community in the town in which I was raised may be small, but it is mighty. The people who watched me grow up, and those who grew up around me and after me, have always offered me love and support, whether I was stumbling through a prayer from the pulpit on one of the many sabbaths of my youth, or if I was thousands of miles away writing silly tales of my adventures in India and beyond.
I am so fortunate to have always been a part of this kind of community. To have grown up in an environment in which I could explore, question, fail and ultimately thrive. But many are not. The realities we encountered in our travels, the tragic events of this day 12 years ago, and the atrocities making their way into our news in recent weeks, serve as an ever-present reminder of just how many people around the world are living in ignorance, fear or shame simply because of the circumstances of where they were born, or who they are.
It is easy, during the inevitably selfish process of a move and a job hunt, to lose focus on a bigger picture. And I am thankful, despite the very sad way by which life had it delivered, for the message that it is up to us to be the kindness and understanding, positivity and influence that our world so desperately needs.
This year, in tribute to a woman who believed in equality and action; I am making not a resolution, but a commitment to offer more of my time, money and heart to the ongoing creation and evolution of judgment-free, love-filled, empowering communities.