In my new role at work, I get more e-mails than I used to. I get credit card receipts and transfer notices, contracts to sign and parents saying hello with a deep love and concern for their child. And every so often, I get an added blessing in my inbox, too.
This week’s came from M. She’s a senior. I’ve never met her. Admittedly, I’ve never even heard her name until she wrote to me earlier this week. She shared she’s been deep in thought after a summer of two lightbulb moments. The first was a trip to Israel. The second are the events that transpired in Charlottesville last weekend. She is seeking Jewish community – so we’re going to get coffee.
Let’s NOT talk about politics, shall we? Let’s talk about the power we have on the days we feel powerless.
If I was my grandmother, growing up in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany in the 1930s, would I have felt the same sense of Jewish pride that I do today? It seems to be there is a very fine line between pride & fear, connection & retreat. We are living through rocky days, days where I make sure my kids can’t hear the news cycle, days where I’m thinking deeply about the Jewish parents getting ready to drop their children off at the University of Virginia next week. Do you tell your child to stand proudly as a Jew, even if it brings them into a line of fire? Or do you tell them to stay a little quieter, and hence, maybe just a little safer? I cannot fathom that I even write this in 2017 – and yet as a parent so desperate to protect her children, I think these questions are real.
I don’t know much, but I do know this: What a job I am privileged to have, a job that’s on the receiving end of M.’s email; she is the hero of my story. I cannot control what comes out of the mouths of those in power, but I can take charge of the power I have. It is this: to help M express her power to feel proud of her Jewish identity, to create laboratories at GW so M and her peers can play around with the malleable shape of one’s Jewish identity, to help M. write her own torah & exert her own powerful Jewish identity in ways that work for her.
What is your power? And how can you use it to bring positive change, to be a light where darkness creeps in?