So it’s become tradition that when someone leaves they leave a love note pinned to the bulletin board. Almost as soon as I came back from my trip to NY I started planning in my head what I would write. I wondered when the girls put them up; I never saw anyone do it. I always just came in the morning and saw it there already. I imagined myself creeping up in middle of the night while everyone is sleeping and sticking it on the notice board.
Anyway, as I was saying, I was planning this letter for a long time. Every once in a while a good line would pop into my head and I would be like: omg, I should totally write that. But now as I sit at the computer, with my contact lenses going fuzzy, I’m blanking out. There’s so much to say. I’ve been here for so many days, so many hours, so many minutes. A minute, here, can be so filled with learning and growth. How do I quantify my time spent here? How do I express it all in one letter? If I want anyone to read this I should probably keep it short. I don’t know if I can.
I came to Mayanot last September with the title Shlucha. I felt ill-suited for the job. A Shlucha is meant to be a role model and I didn’t feel that way. I felt lost and confused, trapped in my Judaism. At times wanting out, envious of those who lived the glittery (in my opinion) secular lifestyle, and at other times terrified of leaving what was familiar, of hurting my parents, of being considered a failure. I was disillusioned by the life I lived and came to Mayanot as the last resort. If Mayanot couldn’t save me, nothing would.
I started to learn, to really learn. I’d learnt Chassidus all my life but it had always been abstract, something that was intellectually satisfying but not practical. That changed when I came to Mayanot. I learnt so many new things. I learnt that Chassidus is applicable in my modern life, that G-d wants a relationship with me, that G-d cares about what I do, I can make a difference in my life and in the world, I can change, I can become a better person.
My experienced here became a journey of self-discovery. My questions became: What does this concept mean to me? Can I apply it to my everyday life? How do I apply it? How do I deepen my relationship with Go-? And then came the urgent realization that I need to share what I’ve learnt with others.
Slowly but surely I changed. It wasn’t something conscious. When I looked back at the weeks that had flown by I realized that I had internalized certain concepts, that they became a part of me, that I started thinking differently, I had different perspectives than previously, I felt differently about certain things, feelings I had never felt before. It was so real to me, so true. Judaism had stopped being restrictive, it became something I lived, it became who I was.
I don’t know when exactly it happened, or how exactly it happened, but it did. Day by day. Walking through the door, drinking from the water fountain, smiling to the people around me, being within the walls of Mayanot, attending Farbrangens and classes, using a glass mug, somehow all these things were a part of it. They became a part of me, and I a part of it, a part of Mayanot.
Tonight is my last sleep in Mayanot (that’s if I get to bed). Mayanot has changed my life irrevocably. As I leave now I’m different than the timid, uncertain girl that first walked through the Mayanot gate. I now have a new self-confidence in myself and in my ability to motivate myself and others. I do feel like a role model because I know who I am. I feel like Mayanot has handed me the truth and now I hold it tightly in my fist. I never want to let go of it.
The best part is that the changes don’t stop here. Mayanot has given me the ability to continue on changing, to learn from every encounter, every experience becomes a story with a moral. Everything is a lesson, something that I can grow from. This is a gift I will forever treasure.
Thank you Mayanot for being here for me and for others like me who are seeking the truth. Thank you for your warm accepting environment that lets us grow at our own pace in a way that we can change our lives in a real way.
Good luck Mayanot. I bless you with success. May you have the ability to reach out and touch so many Jewish women so that they in turn go out and touch so many more.
Goodbye Mayanot. Although I am leaving physically I am comforted because I know that a piece of Mayanot is lodged in my heart and is there to stay, forever.
With a prayer in my heart, a blessing on my lips, and tears in my eyes,