Beginning with Appreciation

A few weeks back I returned to work after a whirlwind maternity leave. As I sat down to my desk, a bit ambivalent about spending my first significant chunk of time away from my two-month-old baby boy, I heard the intercom click on. Then the sound of a shofar. Throughout the month of Elul a colleague at The Jewish Education Project had been blowing the shofar for the entire staff to hear. And it was amazingly comforting. While I was away from home, I knew  was with extended family, doing work I enjoy, and helping the community I love - with the hope that my son will come to love it as much as I do.

We have a lot to work on in the Jewish communal world, as articles in this very publication can attest to; there’s no question that there is room for improvement. But we have an awful lot to be thankful for as well. After hearing the shofar, I put the question out to my network of fellow Jewish communal professionals, asking them what they loved about their work at a Jewish organization. It couldn’t hurt to start the new year off with a sense of appreciation, right?

Below are some of their answers; I’d love to hear yours.

  • The shared values of a team working within a Jewish framework to make a meaningful impact. -Arnie S.

  • Creating meaningful experiences for my participants/interns makes me love working at a Jewish organization. -Lisette Z.

  • I love working for a Jewish organization because every day I get to fulfill the commandment “v’shinantem l’vanecha.” OK, it may not always be a child, or even my child, but it’s someone’s child, no matter how old they may be. -Sara S.

  • Shabbat. Being able to take a full 24 hours off to renew and refresh without anyone questioning my loyalty or commitment to my work. -Liz. F. (Note: there was lots of appreciation expressed about time off for holidays!)

  • The shared values and constant strive to do more, understand more, and grow together. -Aron N.

  • I feel part of something much bigger than me, my family, my community. -Ravit G.

  • Knowing that our advocacy work makes a real difference on a global scale. -Jane C.

  • Being able to pick up a challah or two from our kosher kitchen on the way out the door. -Paul W.

  • Working with people who understand what it means to clean for Pesach or cook for a Jewish holiday makes me love working at a Jewish organization. -Fern K.

  • Helping to enact a Jewish world of inclusiveness and meaningful ritual that gives each person just what they need. -Carrie B.

  • Getting to live my personal Jewish life philosophy day to day. Feeling like I can make an impact on something I love so much. -Anita S.

Be it lofty or practical, serious or silly, I encourage us all to take a moment to share what we love about our work and begin 5774 with appreciation. May we all be signed and sealed for a good life and a successful and joyful new year!

High Holiday inspired music from Stereo Sinai (my band), Pharaoh’s Daughter, The Afro-Semitic Experience, and more! Compiled by the good folks over at Craig n’ Co. (It’s only free till Thursday, so grab it now…)