Thursday, February 24, 2011

Amanda asked, "who are you?" I think I have an answer...maybe.

At Art for the Jewish Heart on Tuesday, Amanda asked us about our identity.  She asked us while we cut out pictures from magazines and pasted them around a mirror to reflect how we see ourselves.  I honestly was having trouble coming up with a verbal answer to her questions.  It's a hard thing to analyze yourself and really say..this is exactly who I am.

The consensus around the table was that everyone has a set of morals and values that represent who they are, but that there are many things about us that change as we grow and learn about all the opportunities we have in this world and the choices we have to become who we want to be.

I have to honestly say (and I know it's going to sound like a plug for Hillel, but) that Hillel, in the few short months that I have been working here and taking part in all the amazing events has really helped me open my eyes to who I am, as a person and more importantly as a Jew.  Growing up, I was in a community that was not largely Jewish leaving me with a lot of questions from other people and of my own about what it means to be Jewish.  Being at Hillel allows me to ask my questions and formulate my own ideas about what it means to me...

Shabbat every week has introduced me to so many amazing people that I would have never met if it weren't for Hillel.  Torah on Tap allows me to have intellectual discussion about Torah that I may not have ever had.  Camping Shabbat opened my eyes to the real meaning of Shabbat.  I was actually able to really take time and reflect on the week behind me and the week ahead while only surrounded by a campfire, acoustic music and some other amazing Jewish students.  There were no distractions at traffic, no lights, only the music, our prayers and our reflection.

So I guess I don't really have an answer for "who I am."  I'm a Jewish student that loves to help people.  I love to learn new things and I love going on adventures.  That doesn't really describe "who I am," but it does tell me how I am going to continue to figure out who I am.  How do you identify yourself? What makes you YOU?  It's really important to think about.  I hope that you will reply or at least take a moment to think about it, really think about it.

Like Rabbi Daniel said, turn off the auto-pilot.  Embrace the chances you have to make choices and change how you do things that can overall make your life better.


  1. Jordan's post inspired me in many ways. I very much appreciate the way she highlighted how difficult it can be to answer to question "who am I?" I think that as important as it is to constantly be working toward answering that question, there is another, equally important question we should be asking ourselves: who do I want to be? It is not uncommon to hear small children speaking about what they want to be when they grow up. "I want to be a fireman" "I want to be the President" Children dream big, but they also dream like children. Usually when a child speaks about who they want to be, they are really speaking about what they want to DO - in terms of a profession. A fireman is a profession (albeit a noble one); serving the country as President is a job, not an identity. As we think about our identities, it is important to not be distracted by what we want to do, but rather focus on who we want to be. What kind of person do I want to be? What values do I want to incorporate into my life? What am I going to teach my children? This last point is particularly important, because if we don't teach our children values, they will obtain their values from somewhere else (put best by Kanye West, "Who your kids go listen to? I guess me if it isn't you..."

    Tyler Durden - the main character in the movie Fight Club - tells us what we are not: "You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your _____ khakis." The question is: what are we? Who are we? Who do we want to be?

    This question is of such importance, the Torah builds in to our weekly schedule time to introspect and contemplate this question. For six days of the week we "do" - we run around, attend class, make plans, attend meetings...etc. On the seventh day - Shabbat - instead of "doing" we spend our day "being." No planning, no meetings, no classes, no work...just being. Being what? Being who? Let's figure it out!

  2. Jordan's post inspired me also. As a board member and contributor to UF Hillel, I also am inspired by the great work that Hillel does and its effect on JewGators. Go Gators!