Values Swirling All Around

values swirlingThese past few weeks have added a new role to my job description: Head of Moving.  Ready to make major changes to the Hillel building at 2300 H Street, our staff is migrating across campus to our new home at 714 21st St.  Through the process, I’ve learned a great deal about priming walls and buying screws.  The move is nearing completion at a significant time in the year; just as we move our physical space from one location to another, we also aim to move our heads and hearts to a better place in these holy days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In this space, two conversations have caught my attention this week.  The first kept me up at night, as N. took the opportunity to share with me that the people she has been meeting don’t find community at Hillel.  N. meant well but some days, after years of aiming to build something great, those words punch me in the gut.  Am I running my Jewish communal wheels but getting nothing accomplished?

The second conversation with G. ranged from priorities to pot, long hours in Gelman to short hours in meaningful conversations.  At the end of our talk, G. said that her mother advised her to find a therapist on campus but G. replied, ‘Don’t worry, Mom.  I can always just talk to Adena.’  I was touched by this simple comment.  But am I getting paid to build Jewish life or just be a nice person to talk to?

Both conversations moved my mind in many directions.  Both made me question the core of my job responsibilities and what roles I aim to play.

If moves are done well, they prompt us to think about priorities.  A choice about where to place a picture or position a chair is really a choice of what’s important and how you want to make others feel at home.  A move in time provokes similar questions on values:  As each year that I spend on campus passes, have I evolved in my thinking?  Have I worked this week to merit my Rosh Hashanah requests, to do better, to be better?

All of us have jobs to do – papers to write, classes to attend, furniture and communities to build.  But some days, the jobs change shape or don’t feel the way we anticipated them to.  And thus, we have a choice: we can be frustrated or we can roll with the punches, we can choose to get caught up in the details or instead catch up with our values.

With Yom Kippur upon us, have you re-visited your core values lately?  Are the things swirling around you dictating your values, or are you ensuring that your values dictate the goodness that swirls around?

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