Lehitraot: Until We Meet Again

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Dear Students & Colleagues of The David Project,

Four years ago, I was invited to be part of a life-changing experience. I embarked on a journey from Israel activism on campus to meaningful relationship building. I never thought that the highlight of my college career and my first years of professional experience would be heavily impacted by my time in The David Project.

In 2014, Or Kaidar, the Israel Fellow to FIU invited me to be part of the very first campus outreach team at our campus under the coordination of Alexandra Lundeen. At first, I was uncertain not knowing what the program was. Suddenly I resonated strongly with its approach and quickly became a relational advocate. For this reason, I left my comfort zone at Hillel and ZBT and decided to build relationships with leaders in the Student Government Association (SGA). I went from attending student senate meeting, to helping candidates campaign, and finally serving my university as its Student Body Vice President. The impact of my work through The David Project built a lasting ally-ship between SGA and the Jewish/Israel community at FIU that is active until today. In addition to the relationship-building and professional skills I acquired at The David Project, I am leaving with two powerful lesson in my time as a campus coordinator.

First, narratives matter. I’ve had the opportunity to staff two Israel Uncovered trips with some of the most exceptional campus leaders. Throughout the trips we emphasize the importance of personal narratives and how these accounts relate back to us and our own experiences. No matter how difficult or divisive the conversation around Israel, or any other topic these days may be, we must be willing to listen all narratives in order to find common ground.

Second, we live in a very polarized world with lots of noise and less listening. The first step to have constructive and significant conversations is to listen. The most important part of prayer in Judaism is The Shema, “Listen Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One”. The Rabbis teach that the first word in this affirmation of faith has a universal meaning: Listening, in our culture, is a mental activity, and hearing just means that our ears pick up sounds. But in Hebrew, the word shema describes hearing and also its effects - taking heed and action.

So, to my colleagues at The David Project, my students in Southern California and Texas, and all the professional partners I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I leave you with this piece of wisdom: be the change-agents of today’s society, share your narrative, and become active listeners.

Until We Meet Again!

JG

 

TDP