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The Sea of Change

I don’t remember ever feeling this nervous and excited. I am on stage in front of nearly 200 of my colleagues, mic in hand, ready to kick off the Association of Reform Jewish Educators 2019 Annual Gathering. I was given the honor of being asked to co-chair the Gathering a little over a year ago. The past year has been a blur of emails to speakers, Google docs of schedules and hotel staging guides, phone calls with my co-chair, and Zoom meetings with the ARJE Professional Learning team. After many conversations with some of the best and brightest in our field, we selected the title “The Nachshon Effect: Facing the Sea of Change” for the Gathering, the focus being on leading and managing change in our individual workplaces. And now, today is the day for which we have spent the past year planning. As I take the stage, I am so proud of the work that we have done and so excited and humbled to have the opportunity to bring this learning experience to my colleagues.

This important snapshot from January 2019 has stuck with me and will always be one of the most exciting and proud moments of my career. I have known for a long time that what most energizes and inspires me as an educator is getting to spend time collaborating, working with, and learning from my colleagues. Collaboration and connection are both core values that I hold. They make me better at what I do and happier when I do it.

For that reason, I was saddened when our 2020 Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) Annual Gathering was cancelled due to COVID. And I was incredibly disappointed again in 2021. However, 2022 is finally my year! After a one month delay due to Omicron, I am so fortunate to have finally been able to gather with the rest of the ARJE. I have recently returned from the 2022 ARJE Annual Gathering in Baltimore with new tools, techniques, and renewed energy. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Turn It and Turn It Again.” It was all about using traditional Jewish texts to educate in new and innovative ways – something I feel passionate about. The goals of the gathering were:

* Encounter one another, face to face. * Encounter sources of Jewish wisdom about encounters with others, with the self, and with the Divine. * Encounter different lenses for exploring Jewish texts and wisdom to nourish my soul and to take my learnings back to our community.

I took workshops on storytelling, art, nature, and loose parts play. I learned, sang, danced, celebrated, ate, and prayed amongst my colleagues from across the country. I rekindled old friendships and began forming new ones. I came back to Chicago with both a (much heavier) bag and a mind full of new resources to bring to our students and our teachers. I am so grateful to Emanuel for prioritizing my professional development and for supporting membership in the ARJE and so excited to have finally gotten a chance to grow my own professional tool kit. I know our students and teachers will have the opportunity to benefit from it as well!


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