Something is stirring within me. It’s an awakening, a new awareness. I believe this is what they call a transitioning period.
Gone are the days of long waits in agonizing silence. No longer do I sit and wonder if I’ll get in. Now I have a destination. I have answers to questions that I’ve asked for a year. I also have a new perception. Nostalgia creeps around every corner, catching me off guard each time. You see, I’ve spent so long considering the hardships of joining a new community, that I failed to recognize the one I am leaving behind.
My love and appreciation for the Temple Beth Am community came unexpectedly. Growing up, I never considered myself a religious person. Even at a young age, I understood that my being there, trying to fit in with a community whose faith I constantly questioned, was disrespectful. But I never voiced my thoughts, and I remained a part of the community at my family’s behest. I attended temple services on High Holy Days and discovered that I liked running into people I knew. Whether it be old classmates from my elementary days or friends of the family, I used the opportunity to keep up with the latest in their lives.
Upon my return home from college, I was offered a job, but I politely declined. A few months later, they tried again. I couldn’t understand why they’d ask me to teach for a program that, as a student, I did everything in my power to get out of. The position was only for one night a week, but I needed the money and I wanted the experience. So I said okay.
Three school seasons later, and I am proud to still be a part of that team. My name was eventually added to the Day School substitute list, and I found myself spending a great amount of time there. I’d gone from student to teacher, and I’d never felt more accomplished. I was now working alongside the professionals that first educated me.
This past summer, while I nervously waited to hear from Peace Corps, I worked as a lifeguard for TBA’s summer camp program for nursery age children. It was then, as I watched parents drop off their little ones, that I finally felt a sense of belonging.
I joined the Beth Am community when I was five years old, but my involvement extends even before my birth. My parents were married there, in the very same synagogue where I became a Bat Mitzvah. Over the course of twenty years, I’ve watched the school grow and change. I’ve forged lasting friendships with the other teachers, many of whom I had as a child. Even in the past three years, I’ve experienced the joyous sensation of watching the students grow. I now finally understand why my departure is so bittersweet.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I see now how that is true. Temple Beth Am was my village, and with them, I grew from child to adult. I embraced the traditions set by those before me, and took to heart many of the lesson’s I’d been taught. Though I was reluctant, I’m glad now that I never backed out.
At the risk of sounding cliché, Beth Am will always hold a special place in my heart. So much of my life has been spent there; milestone after milestone was achieved within those walls. With the guiding hands of my teachers, I unlocked passions that have taken me to soaring heights. I could never give in return as much as Beth Am has given to me. From providing me with a solid foundation, to offering me my first real teaching job, Beth Am has become to feel like a second home. And for as long as I live, I’ll never relinquish the sense of belonging I have now come to own.