I can’t believe, it’s already week 2. Oh time, and how it moves so slowly and then suddenly so fast. My time in NYC is moving quickly and wanted to share some early reflections. Even as I write this I am continuing to explore more and can’t seem to keep up. Bear with me, I am ingesting a lot of content and trying to parse out what makes sense to share, and what is still sloshing around in my brain waiting for the right moment to for it to become coherent thought.
Packing and Hello NYC
At some point I’ll share the trials and tribulations of packing. I packed and repacked about 6 times total, feel good about what I packed, and then landed in New York and every day I reassess.
I had a few days upon arrival in NYC to settle. It’s been a more surreal experience “living” in NYC again, I’m on the Upper West Side, and staying with my friend Whitney. Fun things I’ve done since arriving in NY:
Got new glasses, thanks Warby Parker – seriously, impressively easy and fast.
Have slowed down my running – it was windy and cold but upped my yoga game. Trying to start off healthy!
Serious friend time with Whitney and our friend Amanda, who came into town for the weekend (Travel buds unite!). We had a very New York weekend, did many things including walk Central Park, saw a show (Mike Birbiglia’s The New One) which was super funny, ate vegan ramen and in general just had some good friend time.
Checked out a “speakeasy” in an ice cream shop. Truth.
The actual starting at JDC part.
Week one was jam packed. In a really good way. My schedule is full of meetings with many of the heads of departments at JDC. I also have a great curriculum to work through that involves learning the depth and breadth of the work that JDC does globally, and additionally really diving into the legacy of Ralph Goldman. It’s a transition to be working in an office again, but as soon as I settle here, I’ll be off to Israel and trying to settle again. People are friendly, helpful, and of course being fed bagels on Fridays isn’t a terrible office life.
The creator of this fellowship. It didn’t take long in starting to peruse the curriculum to begin to get a sense of Ralph. Even more it didn’t take long for me to be in awe of the impact he left on the world, and specifically world Jewry. There have already been multiple times where I have read something about Ralph or written by him where I am amazed at the depth of this organization, and one person's impact. At the same time realized some of my own shared values and viewpoints.
I’m still figuring out the right way to reflect and share all that I’m learning and discovering. Here are some of the highlights of things I’ve learned:
“People, not buildings are central”
- Ralph I Goldman.
The first note I took. I don’t remember where I read it, but such a simple and strong message. When we go out into the world, remembering people, humans, are at the core of the work that is done. This goes for not just how I spend my time, but so many people. I recognize all the places that this statement can be relevant. I’m sure it can be argued, but I’ve always been a big believer in people. It’s played out in many ways for me from leading trips, to customer service, to how to interact with the world. I also believe how our surroundings influence our experiences, but still, people first.
“Which is greater, study or action? Rabbi Tarfon answered: Action is great. Rabbi Akiva answered: Study is great. All the rest of the elders agreed with Akiva that study is greater than action, because it leads to action.”
“Ralph would have wanted the RIG fellows...to spend the year immersed in both study and in action.”
Note from Andrea Siegel, 2008-2009 RIG Fellow. First, quoting a midrash (ancient commentary on biblical text) found in Kiddushin (40b). Second, Andrea’s advice.
I have such appreciation for this idea. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the course of the past few years and something I know is that as much as I like to jump in and get things done, I also enjoy learning. The idea that this fellowship is designed and created so that both exist is exciting. It seems that Ralph had the propensity to approach global problems by allowing equal importance to be given to both study and action. Beyond this, recognizing that study leads to action, and becomes a circular pattern by continuing to study the action (aka evaluation and metrics) and adjusting, shifting and continuing to act from there.
The other piece I appreciate is that by dedicating this year to both study and action provides the opportunity to slow down. Maybe not in a blatant way in that time is moving fast, but in my ability to be in the moment, focus on the now and recognize that the learning and action I’ll do and take this year will continue to have touch points far beyond 2019.
Thoughts on Shabbat.
Throughout the year I have a more personal minor goal to experience many different celebrations of Shabbat. Even in New York the opportunity exists to see how people celebrate in various (truly diverse) ways. As I travel this year, any connections or thoughts on Shabbat experience must haves, or great connections, I’m open. For me Shabbat provides that true space to slow down, to reflect on the week, and take a breath. I’m utilizing it to reconnect each week, wherever I am. For some people it’s just the perfect excuse to shut off your phone for one day, or really pull your head up from work and spend time with others, with community, or maybe even personal time. I’ve been able to create, with the help of friends - shout out to my “multi-generational” friend Deborah (our grandparents were friends, and mom’s are BFF) -Shabbat so far in NYC.
Still curious on where I'm headed? Stay tuned...I'll have a big reveal once I know! :)
Whew. This is a long one. If you read all the way through. Mazel and thank you. If you only caught the highlights, I still like you. More to come. Questions, thoughts, comments, reach out!
If you want to receive updates about the work JDC does subscribe here: https://www.jdc.org/subscribe/