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    Networking in the Sukkah– a Dread or an Opportunity?

    By Noa Peri-Jensch


    As I was explaining my trainer at the gym today why I couldn’t possibly keep a straight diet over the holidays and that Sukkut is knocking on the door, where I’m expected to wine and dine for seven days, not to mention eight days of Chanukah in just a few weeks and that one day of fast over Yom Kipur couldn’t possibly off set all these challenging days…He paused and smiled. He said “I am in such an awe of how the Jewish people imprinted deep down in their culture the importance of tradition, holidays and feasts. We (he is Catholic) have 1 day of Christmas and 1 day of Easter gatherings around food. You guys have months worth of occasions where you have big meals. But at the same time, I now understand how strong your community is as it provides such strong infrastructure for you to meet old friends and welcome new ones. The longer the occasions are, the deeper you network with one another and succeed.”  This conversation made me think about the holidays and gathering from a completely new perspective…a networking perspective.


    I am not suggesting walking into a sukkah and distributing business cards but it is a good time to walk in with a new mind set of getting to know new people and starting conversations framed around getting to know the needs and likes of others while looking at ways of meeting these needs. Isn’t what networking is all about?  I don’t think that Abraham had that in mind when he invited the 3 angels in disguise into his tent, but the end result was a win-win for both parties.  Networking comes naturally for some and is a huge dread for others. No one likes to be “sold” into a service or product, especially over the holidays. But true good networkers are successful at that no matter what is the occasion. Here are some tips that might work for you.


    1. Arrive on time. Not only it is considered rude to be late, but it also helps you get situated and get comfortable with the environment and people. It is easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.


    2 It’s all about relationships. Never ever offer your services or products in such gatherings. People have gathered together to celebrate the holidays. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal –People are more incline to do business with – or partner with – people whose company is enjoyable.


    3. Start a conversation. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “how do you know our host?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. I always vote for doing listening than talking. There is so much you can learn about other people’s expressed and unexpressed wishes, If only you’d listen.


    4. Share your passion. Attract people with your enthusiasm, not for your products or services, but for the outcome and impact they have over other people. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to get into your field or create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is inspiring and contagious. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a two-way conversation.

    5. It’s not about what people think about you…It’s about how you make people feel about themselves when they are around you. Best way to engage and be engaged is by really being in the present, totally fascinated with the people and conversations that you are part of. As soon as you glance sideways, looking at who has just arrived, or checking an incoming text on your phone, you have lost the connection.

    6. Be Positive.  Attitude is contagious. You all know people who you feel energized to be around them and people who make you tired immediately. It is all about their attitude and appreciation for life. Do your best to avoid complaining, and other negative remarks. You might think that sarcasm is funny, but sarcasm, in the wrong dozes, gives you a reputation of being negative. Look people in the eye, use their name repeatedly, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Don’t forget to smile. A real genuine smile invites others to come to you. You must have a good reason to be happy about.


    7. When it’s appropriate make sure to follow up. If you have spotted a way that you may be of a help to someone, remember to ask what is the best way to follow up with, send a referral or just email a good article about that topic. Since it is all about relationship building and not selling, stay in touch with people. Let them know how they can contact you.




    A Day of Atonement, taken to heart

    By Orit Ramler Szulik

    I had already ironed my suit, the early dinner menu planned, my “Talit” ready. It was last
    year, at 3:00am on the day we wake up to get ready for Yom Kippur. My Day of Atonement started with an unexpected sharp, loud cry assuring the skies were open to hear my pain and plea for relief. My whole world suddenly collapsed, my body certainly did, and the pain was worst than any pain I could ever imagine. To make a long story short, and after days of what felt like torture, I found out that I had two severely herniated disks in my upper back, and that surgery was needed. I wondered, “Can this really be happening to me? who will take care of my family? how will the world keep
    going with me in bed? “ – The answers to these questions were not clear, but eventually I learned a lesson. A year later, I didn’t just survive but I am definitely in a better place.

    We were at the door steps of Yom Kippur, a time for introspection and there I was capable of doing just that, metaphorically and literally! Finding a meaning to whatever happens to us is a good practice, and for me that is what helped me make this experience a profound one, not just a painful one. It was a long month before I had my Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion surgery, followed by a few months of recovery. I was forced to learn much about myself and others. And here it goes:

    We are vulnerable.  I never took the time to think about it before. Being confronted with my own vulnerability was very powerful; scary at first, and yet empowering and somehow beautiful when accepted. Vulnerability made me connect with what the core of life is all about and appreciate every day with a new lens, one that doesn’t take anything for granted and yet appreciates every feeling and experience with passion. Vulnerability made me become thankful -for the good and the challenging, but mainly for being able to deal with both.

    Compassion is a practice.  I always thought I was compassionate, and somehow I was, but now I know better. There are friends and family who “carried me through” my ordeal, they taught me what compassion in action is. The friend who didn’t just guess but instead asked me “what do you need?”; the one who massaged my  numbed fingers for hours; the one who asked me “what do you want for lunch today?”- almost every day; the one who sat next to me while I was sleeping so my husband
    could do some work; the one who organized a four-week schedule of visits and meals for my family; the ones who called every day; the one who baked chalah every Friday; the many who would sent flowers from around the world and from around the corner; the ones who came to visit; the ones who made sure I had everything I needed to be comfortable; the one who got me into all those TV series and kept me entertained; the many who cooked home made meals. I am eternally grateful for having them in my life, but also because they taught me all I need to learn about compassion, not because of
    what they did, but because of how they did it.

    There is a time for everything. “Can I stop everything in my life? what will happen with my clients? what will I miss for my kids? what if I can’t take my parents to an important doctor’s appointment? how can I miss being there with my husband during the High Holidays?”… bottom line, “will the world continue functioning without me?”. I had no choice but to let go and eventually find out by myself. As you can imagine, the world kept going pretty smoothly. My clients are still there, my kids did well and actually gave me lots of care and love, my parents didn’t need a doctor but helped me heal, my husband was surrounded by the love of our community, and things didn’t stop or collapse because my body did. There is a time for healing and there is a time for all the rest. We have the permission to do what’s truly important for us some times.

    Scars happen.  At first I didn’t even care about it, I just wanted to make sure I will be able to walk. Then I started to wonder, and my son told me “it is cool, it will be another story to tell”, and I liked the idea. After the surgery, my scar looked as if someone tried to decapitate me, but it was ok. Then, I hated it because it reminded me about the pain. Later I forgot about it, and everyone would tell me “I can’t even notice your scar”, and I would think “yes you can, but you’re sweet”. A few weeks ago, I walked into a store and a guy tells me, “you belong to my club”, then he showed me his own scar…I loved it! No more words were needed, we were brothers. We shared everything about our common
    experiences, and spoke the same language. Since then, my scar is officially noticeable, a story to share, and a reminder of vulnerability, compassion, friendships, love, belonging, introspection and strength.

    We have no control. I knew it, but I didn’t, and some times I still forget. The bottom line is that I fear every situation where I’m not in control or command – such as roller coasters or airplanes. Going into the surgery, I had no control (thanks G-d) over what the surgeon would do, and the outcome of his work. The only thing I could control at times, was my fear and thoughts. And yes, I chose my surgeon. So, although we never have full control over absolutely anything in life, we can do our due diligence to get as close as we can to some peace of mind that we did our best. Peace of mind is my new goal, as opposed to control.

    My husband is the best! I knew it the day I met him and I know it 27 years later. The way he was there for me, carrying me through, was a way that goes beyond anything I could imagine or describe. He gave me dignity and made me feel well with whatever was happening all along the way. What my husband taught me about him, myself and our relationship is a gift that can help rebuild any collapsed human being.

    And the lessons go on and on. This Rosh Hashanah, I’m thankful to so many and for so much. Now the Day of Atonement is almost back, and I’m thanking G-d for the journey he took me through. This Yom Kippur I will stand tall, look deep inside, and I will know I have been strengthened by all the lessons I learned from the past year.I have my suit ironed, the early dinner menu planned, my “Tallit” ready, again. I also have a renewed wisdom to accept that I’m vulnerable and that’s part of being alive, that true compassion carry people through the most challenging times, that I can take time
    off and the world will be just fine, that control is an illusion and peace of mind is the way, that scars have their beauty, that community and friendships are a blessing, and that my family is a gem.

    I wish all of you a meaningful Holiday, where you can look deep inside, find the meaning to what’s important, think of the lessons learned and be open to keep learning, and be ready for new beginnings.

    Life Outside the Box

    by Jane Stein

    Walking through the woods on a snowy day (with apologies to the good Mr. Frost)…well, actually walking through the city on a hot and humid day, my path as always took me by the little park.  I have described this park to you before.  It is the place where many of our town’s homeless congregate on bench’s to meet, chat, enjoy a bit of sun and safety.
    But this day, something was different.  I saw a few folks tossing Frisbees for their puppies, a few folks power walking in the middle of the park.  But what I did not see was one single solitary homeless person.  And more shocking was the other thing I did not see….one single solitary park bench!  Our town fathers (and mothers) in their infinite wisdom decided to remove all of the park benches from the three pocket parks located across from the three large churches and synagogues that often serve lunch for the homeless.  No benches, No homeless.  No homeless, No “noisequarrelsshoutingpushing.  Hum.
    My experiences walking by those little pocket parks two or three times a week have always been very pleasant.  No one has ever pushed, shoved or quarreled as I came by.  The most shouting I have ever heard is a “you go girl” or a “looking good today”.  Yes, I am not so naive as to believe that when the sun goes down it might not be quite so peaceful in these pocket parks  After all, these folks must jockey for the softest (really, is there such a thing?) bench to sleep on.  But SO WHAT!
    As I continued my walk, without the cheering squad urging me on, I got this image in my mind of a safe, sound, neat, clean, cozy box.  This is the box that each and every one of us live in.  It is a box filled with privilege.  I am not talking about the “privilege” of great wealth.  I am talking about the privilege of living a life well above the bottom three rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Of being able to live a life with our biological and physical needs met (food, shelter, warmth), our safety needs met, our belonging and love needs met.  Life inside the box is quite wonderful.
    And so as we all approach the coming days of awe, I believe that we should each take a moment of our time to think about whether or not we are doing all we can to help more people live a life in the box.  Are we volunteering our time and donating a bit of our treasure to help those living outside the box in our own neighborhoods, towns, country, overseas?  Are we keeping our covenant to repair the lives of those living outside the box in this tired old world?  Are we doing our very best to make this world just a little bit better…to help more people to have some kind of a happily ever after?
    I keep a copy of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs posted where I see it every single day to remind me that I am one of the truly luckiest women in the world.  As we approach the New Year of 5774 let’s all take a look at dear old Maslow and thank G-d once again for our lives inside the box.

    Visiting Israel: A Visit to My Life Philosophy

    A 65 year-old person today is not considered old, but I think we can agree that a 65 year-old country

    is considered very young. Imagine a 65 year-old country, with roughly 7.5 million people living in it. Imagine a country barely the size of New Jersey. Imagine a country with people arriving in massive immigration waves from the most diverse cultures you can think of, including roughly 150,000 from Ethiopia and 1.5 million from the former Soviet Union, all in recent years. Imagine a young, tiny country trying to welcome all faiths and yet protect its roots. Imagine that country, a true melting pot, living in a difficult neighborhood with many extremists trying to wipe it off the map. Imagine a country where every home is required to have a shelter and all citizens their own gas masks, all the time. Imagine a country where you are sitting in your room and the background noise is from a neighbor country, the border just 1.5 mile away, fighting a bloody civil war. Imagine a country where each and every 18 year-old kid is required to serve in the army for several years. Imagine a young and tiny country in the middle of the desert. Imagine that country fighting for its right to exist in peace, and yet trying to preserve its vibrant democracy.

    What kind of country do you imagine? If you’re like me, you imagine Israel, but you also know that it is so much more than what I just described.
    I will tell you that in that country and with all that complexity, I had the best family vacation one could ask for! Whatever you imagined, here is what I saw. I saw the beauty and the narrative of a very young country still defining itself, as its own identity keeps evolving while confronting significant existential threats and complex social issues. I saw a country where people feel safe and know that life is valued and important. I saw a blossoming economy in the middle of the desert, where it is sometimes hard to know you are in the desert when you see the modern landscape around you. I saw a changing society that has its own challenges, but also a beautiful mosaic where the most diverse cultures interact and learn how to become one, building a unique blend, and learning painfully how to coexist with the good and the not so good – but always learning! I saw a country that makes the best out of its Army and young soldiers, which develops and grows the younger generations with strong values, education, innovation, and a hope for a better future. I saw people living fully every day. I saw a mezuzah in every grocery store, post office, and everywhere I turned, feeling at home. I saw the hub for many technologies that keep the entire world running, technologies which come from Israeli innovation and scientific advancements, created in the middle of the blossoming desert. I saw a country which continues to have its top universities and academic institutions ranked among the best in the world. I experienced art, culture, healthy democratic debates, and constant self-questioning of its political and judicial systems. I saw incredible beautiful sites and ate wonderful meals from around the world. I enjoyed some remote, wonderful restaurants in the Galilee, started by up-and-coming Israeli chefs, and even a growing Israeli winery in the Golan. I enjoyed the pleasure of the best Mediterranean beaches.  I heard the sounds of all religions, languages and music you can imagine. I experienced the sounds of the bombs in Syria while having coffee and the best water melon ever, at my cousin’s home in a beautiful and peaceful Moshav in the Golan. I also heard directly from doctors how Israel is rescuing Syrian women and children and treating them in Israeli hospitals. I heard the struggles and needs of the people but also the understanding that many challenges are global and the hope and desperate cry for peace is a shared struggle.  I saw lots of growth and development regardless of all the challenges that young, tiny and complex country faces. I saw the choice to live in peace even if we are not there yet. I saw that life goes on in Israel!
    And that’s when I finally understood where my personal and professional “make it a good one” philosophy comes from. I grew up belonging to a country, and today I belong to a community of people that always stands for the life every human being can and deserve to have. We choose to transform what we have, no matter how difficult it is, into a good one! We had slavery, we escaped. We had the tragedy of the Holocaust and we came from the ashes and re-built. We had wars and we kept going. We had terrorism and we didn’t settle. We have a desert and we make it blossom. Israel is young, imperfect as we all are, a very complex society…and yet the people in Israel choose every day to make it a good one.
    My trip to Israel was a great vacation, fun and meaningful. But my trip to Israel also became a trip to understand where I come from and how far we can go when we transform what we have into what it can be.

    Camp isn’t Just for Campers Part 2: Saying Goodbye to Camp

    First Day of Camp


    My last last day of camp was approaching and tears welled up in my eyes every time I thought about saying goodbye to the part of my job that I’ve loved the most. What brought me to this moment? Several months ago, I resigned from my position as the Associate Executive Director at the Siegel JCC in Wilmington, DE. I had been with the agency for almost 12 years and I was ready for a change. Knowing that it would it be a a hard transition for everyone (including myself), I gave four months’ notice.

    But as it turned out, the hard part was even harder than I had anticipated.

    Part of my job this summer was to help our Interim Camp Director have a successful summer. “No problem” I smirked, as I thought to myself, “I’ll spend the summer outside at camp, play and have fun! I can do that.” And that I did. But what I didn’t realize was how hard my last, last day of camp would be. The reason I got into the Jewish Communal field was to be a Camp Director so the idea of never being part of camp again was truly the end of an era. In my role as the  Associate Executive Director of my JCC, I was never far from campers singing and cheering, and I could always take a break from what I was doing to go play outside.  This was fate though —  my last summer at the JCC —  and I got to do what I got into this field to do one last time.

    As my last week approached,  I thought “what about this am I going to miss the most?” Here is my list:

    10. Screaming “Boker Tov Camp!” to all of camp and, in unison, them screaming back “Boker Tov Donna!”

    9. Watching a camper pass the deep water test on her last day of camp when she could barely swim on the first day of camp.

    8. The amount of enthusiasm campers and counselors have for their team colors during the Maccabi Games.

    7. Bringing Israelis to our camp and letting them show campers how amazing Israel is.

    6. Watching a group of 11 year old boys not only accept but totally incorporate a boy with Down syndrome into their group.

    5. Campers and counselors who will do anything to win the Ruach Stick for the week.

    4. All of camp singing the Hatikvah

    3. Watching scared campers cry on the first day of camp knowing that 8 weeks from now they will be crying on the last day of camp because they don’t want it to end!

    2. Hiring counselors who were your campers since Preschool and them being the most amazing staff.

    1. Friday afternoon at Shabbat watching the whole camp saying the prayers over candles, wine, and challah and singing Bim Bom.

    On Monday morning of my last week of camp, I declared to everyone that I was going to enjoy every moment and fully embrace the last week of camp craziness. In years past, the last week has always been so hectic and I often said “I don’t have time to participate in (fill in the blank)”.  But I was determined to make this year different as I knew there would not be another opportunity like this. Below is just a sampling of the fun that occurs at Camp JCC on the last week of camp.


    Campers pay to Pie the Counselors in the face.  All proceeds go to our Camp Scholarship Fund.


    We dig a Mud Pit for the Maccabi Games final relay
    Shaving Cream Fight on the last day of camp: a Camp JCC tradition!


    I’m a true believer in fate — and this summer was fate.  Ok, well maybe I should thank Jeremy, the previous camp director who moved to Memphis to be the Program Director (thanks Jeremy!) but either way I can’t imagine ending my 20 year career in the JCC field any other way.  
    My new job as a consultant and a trainer will allow me to still be a part of camp by training staff and consulting on best practices but I’m not sure that will ever include getting into a Mud Pit or having a shaving cream fight.  But hey you never know!  Either way, I will always have my last, last week memories to hold onto.

    The Three Magic Words


    Once upon a time there was a major gifts fairy godmother and she would swoop down, wave her magic wand, say the three magic words and poof! The major gift would appear — just like that.


    What, you ask, could those three magic words be?  


    “Join with me”


    How do they work? Well, “join with me” in learning today’s three step lesson in Major Gifts fundraising:


    1. Get your Board to give
    2. Get your Board to ask
    3. Get your Board to use the Three Magic Words
    We all know that a basic rule in the world of nonprofits is that 100% of the board must give.  OK, I see a group of you thinking “but we don’t have that kind of a board!”  YES YOU DO!!  Every person who is on your board, regardless of the level of their wealth (or lack thereof), believes deeply in the mission of the organization.  Otherwise, why would they give their discretionary time to be a member of your board? So if we have established that they believe deeply in the mission, why would they not want to support that mission?  And since there is “NO MONEY NO MISSION, how can that support not include a financial donation?
    We are not, in many cases talking about putting a minimum “give or get or get off” level into this equation, though this is totally appropriate for some of your organizations.  What we are talking about is helping to make the achievement of the mission goals possible…something that takes money.  That mandates asking each and every board member to make a gift to reach those goals.


    I have worked with many human service nonprofits that have by-laws that require that there will be at least two “clients” on the board.  And I have found with the most successful of these organizations, it is the client who is the very first to make an annual financial contribution to the organization. I have seen some of these gifts be $2.00…and have been awed by the power of those gifts. And if that formerly homeless woman, that high-risk, single parent of a child deemed “at risk”, that unemployed and in-debt elderly gentleman can do it…then certainly every other member of the board can make an annual financial donation to the organization.   Again…how can we ask others to do what we ourselves did not think was important enough to do?


    Which brings me back to the three easy steps.  These steps are as important to non major gifts fund raising as they are absolutely critical to major gifts fund raising.  Once the board member has made his or her own financial commitment, Step 1 is done. When a board member is ready to have personal conversations with others in the community (in other words has had some training in ‘how to ask’), willing (in other words has learned that passion for a mission must be followed by action towards reaching those mission goals) and able (in other words has the ability to form sentences and speak them). Step 2 is done.  And now, along with a wonderful (and short) mission story, a very few (very few) facts, much eye contact, a whole lot of active listening to what the donor has to say, it is time to ask the donor for a gift, Step 3.  And what could be more powerful than using saying “join with me”?


    And you know what? Even without a magic wand, you just might get that gift!


    When Are We Home?


    Home is the place that goes where you go, yet it welcomes you upon return. Like a dog overjoyed at the door. We’ve missed you is what you hear, no matter how long you’ve been gone” – Michael J Rosen
    In my last blog I shared that “I lived in seven different countries and felt at home in each one of

    them”. Many of you followed up by asking me, how is that possible. That question triggered a conversation with my daughter, about “which one is really home?”.

    Once again, like with most questions in life, there is no simple answer. To this day, when people ask me “where are you from?” my answer is not a straight-forward one. Instead, I always feel the need to share a short story in response. “I was born in Israel, but I lived in seven different countries, mostly in Argentina, where my parents, my husband and children are from, and now I’m from Durham, NC”, and then I have an urge to add “I’m a citizen of the world”.   Oy!  So, where IS home?
    Let’s start with question #1, how is it possible to make every place home? Well, I need to give credit to my parents for that!
      To start, they always made me feel we were on a mission. It wasn’t about an unstable life, but a life with a purpose. We were moving for my dad’s job and we all had a share in that job. My dad worked for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I always was a little ambassador for my country. The purpose was to bring with me my homeland and share it with my new home until I can share it with another home, and then another… and at the end we all learn that we are part of one big home.
      They always taught me that I was part of a community that was all over the world, and being part of that community gave me a sense of belonging, wherever that community was. I can’t remember having arrived to any country and not being invited that first Friday to a family Shabbat dinner with the same prayers, tastes, and traditions we had at home.
      They also made me believe  – and I still do!-  that there were always friends waiting to meet me in other places. I cried for a week saying goodbye to my friends, but I was also excited to go and meet those who were waiting for me. Coming into a new school it gave me all the confidence I needed to make new friends  “who were waiting for me” — something I carry with me even today.
       And finally, my parents would recreate my environment as if every place was the final destination, not a transition. It wasn’t about “we will live here only for two years”, but it was about “this is home now”. Believe me, it worked!
    My husband always reminds me, it has to do with my personality. But more than that, it has to do with my choice of how I want to live. I could cry for what I am leaving behind, or I could choose to believe that what I have I can still have anywhere I go, and what was there for me will still be there even if I move.
    Now to question #2, which one is really home? That’s a more philosophical question.  At this point “home” is larger than a country for me. Yes, Home is the country I was born in, no doubt about it, even if I left at a young age and even if when I visit (visit home?) I feel a stranger in many ways- from my accent to the way of living.  But I belong there, and belonging is home. Home is being with my childhood friends wherever they are around the globe every time I see them. Home is always when I’m with family who is also happened to be spread out around the world. Home is when I taste that food from that country where I used to live.  Home is listening to the languages I was born into. Home is listening to the songs I grew up with. Home is my parents. Home is being with my husband and my kids even if it is in a hotel room. Home is my house no matter where it is.  As Rabbetzin Twerski wrote “home has nothing to do with bricks and mortar and furnishing, it has everything to do with the spirit which fills it”.
    There is a famous song in Spanish, “No soy de aqui, ni soy de alla.” which means “I’m neither from here nor from there”, but I’d rather sing it  “I’m from here and I’m from there”.
    Home is a feeling, not a place. To me “home” is a state of mind, not always a single  place but many places. Home is a place that goes where I go.

    Change is Inevitable, Suffering Isn’t: Strategies for Managing Change



    After 35 years of working hard and loving every minute of it, my mother is retiring.
    For my mom, this moment came as a surprise. Of course, a part of her brain was aware of this reality but the other part was in a complete denial. 
    For some people, work is a paycheck; a means to get the bills paid and live life. For others, work is a sense of purpose; a validation that their existence means something to someone and that by doing their job and living their life purpose…the world is becoming a better place. For my mom, the latter was the case and this is why it felt to her that someone had just turned off the lights in the middle of the show. 
    In Israel, we have a perfect example that age has nothing to do with who you are and what you are capable of doing.  Shimon Peres, at age 90 and Israel’s President, is living proof that as long as you feel you have something to contribute to the world, then it is your obligation to do so.
    So the question to ask is, why is it so confusing and scary, at times, for people like my mother to retire.  I think the answer lies in our ability to manage change or better yet, manage life transitions.
    Transitions as a Journey Across a Bridge
    Some of the changes in our lives are by choice and our response to the change is positive. Other changes are being forced on us and our response to them might be negative. Either way we need to realize that we are leaving something behind (if we get married – we leave our single life behind, when we start a family – we leave our freedom and sleep behind, when we lose our jobs – we leave our routine and security behind, when we age – we leave our youth behind and all the possibilities we could have had). That is when the journey starts. It is like crossing a bridge. Sometimes we are excited about the journey, and sometimes we are scared. Sometimes the bridges are short and the view is spectacular and sometimes it is long and foggy and we can’t see what’s on the other side. At times we run fast on the bridge, can’t wait to start the new chapter in our lives and sometimes, we refuse to take a single step, holding on to the railing and keeping looking back to all the things that we left behind.
    Harry Woodwards, in his book “Navigating Through Change” has identified four human reactions to change:
    ·         Confusion – “I’m ok but my whole world is destroyed”
    ·         Denial – “If I don’t talk about it or think about it – it doesn’t really happen to me”
    ·         Anger –  “Just as it happened to me, it will happen to you too!”
    ·         Loss – “Who am I if I am no longer have my career or my identity as a spouse?”
    All four reactions have a positive aspect (in moderation) and negative aspects that we must watch out for. We have the ability to recognize the type of reaction that we have, validate our feelings and deal with the difficulties. If we choose to stay “stuck” in any of the reactions – we will never be able to progress in the transitional journey and start a new chapter.
    Managing the Road Blocks
    Sometimes transitions are difficult because of the things that keep holding us back. My friend and colleague, Myriam Khalifa, had suggested that there could be others areas in our life other than our reaction to change that we should look at, such as: 
    ·         Others – beliefs and thoughts of people who are close to us. For example, “my parents raised me to always put my family first, before my own needs”.
    ·         World – circumstances in our life, such as financial crisis, “our mortgage is upside down”, conflicts in the middle east etc.- all that prevent me from leaving the place I am at now.
    ·         Work/Stay home – logistics around the house, commitments that we have at work/home. For example, “my paycheck is really good, even if I’m unhappy with my job”. Or, “I don’t have time for what I really want to do since I have to be here for my children”.
    Sometime we are so bogged down by the roadblocks that we can’t even start thinking of our dreams. Every time we dare to come up with a new idea for ourselves, a roadblock pops in our mind and we soon let go of our dreams. Why not, instead of letting go of our dreams, let go of the roadblocks. This does not mean letting go of the people and responsibilities we have. It means, letting go of the thought that we can’t do things because of our responsibilities.
    Tools for Dealing with Transitions:
    • Recognize and identify the situation: time of transition. What kind of bridge it is? Where are you on this bridge?
    • Re-connecting to your core essence. You are much more than the roles you have in your life.
    • Understanding the natural process of transition and the kind of reaction that you have.
    • Make an inventory – what has really changed in your life and what has stayed the same?
    • Allow time to mourn. Even if the change is positive – you are leaving something behind.
    • Try to enjoy this time of uncertainty. Dare to dream again about a new bright future. Stay open to new ideas and thoughts.
    • Take care of yourself!  What makes you calm and happy? – Do it!
    • This is the time to rely on your support group (friends and family). You are always there for them…it is time for them to remind you how wonderful and capable a person you are!
    • If the change gives you some free time – enjoy it.
    • Don’t worry!  Its going to be OK. Your body is feeling the stress, allow it to breathe deep and relax.
    • Let your emotion be. The more you try to fight sadness and insecurity – the more power they will have over you. We all want to feel positive feelings, but there are other kinds too. Recognize your own feelings and don’t let them take you off track.
    • Be brave – trust your core essence and god’s gifts
    • Instead of saying “I used to be” or “I had” – say: “I hope to be” or “I plan to do”
    • Even if feels that someone had turned off the lights…we always can turn them back on.
    I’d like to wish my mother a smooth journey crossing the bridge into retirement and finding a new and fulfilling new chapter in her life.

    The Chicken or the Egg – Part II

    So, rumor has it that some of you had a bit of a conversation around my last blog “What comes first,   Of course since I live in the 1950’s, in other words not on Facebook, I have absolutely no idea what all you guys said.  But thanks to my dear fellow My Jewish Coach, Donna Schwartz, I have, in spite of crashing my 1950’s computer, kicking and screaminly entered your universe and joined Facebook!!!

    the chicken or the egg?”

    As soon as I accomplished this ever so mighty feat, I felt really proud of my very clever self.  But there was one small problem…I have absolutely no idea what to do now.  And most importantly, I have no idea how to communicate with you guys (please note that a guy is very often a woman!) when each and every one of you decide that the following is something you simply do not agree with!
    Yes.  I still believe NO MONEY – NO MISSION.  Yes, the MONEY must come first.  That being said, without a compelling mission, (remember your really, really really great idea from last month?) finding the money is gonna be a tad difficult.  Does that mean that the MISSION comes first?  Hum. I do believe that we are now smack dab back in that whole chicken and egg conundrum.
    So now here are the three Jane P. Stein recommendations for getting around this whole mishegas.
    1.     Take that really really really great idea – now becoming in your own mind a sorta mission statement – and call the very smartest person you know.  To qualify who this particular very smart person should be, it needs to be someone with a whole boat load of money and a willingness to part with it for organizations with compelling missions (you know…that guy with the philanthropic soul). 
    2.     Make an appointment (a date for coffee or “just 15 minutes of your time at your office”) to meet face to face.
    3.     Use the nine magic words “I really would love to pick your amazing brain” followed very quickly (no breathing allowed) by the eight even more magical words “I promise I won’t ask you for money”.
    And BINGO!  You are on your way!!  This is your opportunity to test drive your idea.  Call it your very own personal feasibility study (and just like those fancy and very expensive feasibility studies we all know and don’t particularly love) your very smart person knows that you will be back one day asking for money!  But at this meeting, DO NOT ASK FOR MONEY…and if this very smart person begs you to take money to get started, please, please keep your promise and DO NOT TAKE THE MONEY.  You are there to paint the picture of how much better the world will be with the implementation of your mission idea.  This is your chance to engage another person into dreaming your dream with you. 
    Of course if you cannot engage this very smart person into dreaming with you, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.  No engagement, no money.  No money, no mission.
    But if you see this guy’s eyes light up.  And you see this guy move forward to the edge of that great big scary office chair, pitch your little heart out, but be sure that you take a whole lot of the time to get input from the very smart person. 
    Because once that input starts getting put in, you will find yourself with a new partner to your dream…one with the money (and the friends and the contacts and the connections) to get your mission up and running.  And then guess what???? MONEY AND MISSION!!!

    Camp isn’t just about the campers!

     by Donna Schwartz


    Jessica & Eden back in the day

    About a month ago I boarded a plane from Philly to Ft. Lauderdale excited to be going to a wedding of a close friend. Close is probably an understatement. See I met this beautiful young lady when she was five and I was 15. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school and she was in my very first camp group at Camp Maccabee. I was a young Junior counselor and she was a nervous first time camper.  I immediately connected with her and the entire group of 5 year old girls. I remember getting paid something like $300 for the entire summer but it didn’t matter, I was having a blast.  One day at pick-up the camper’s mom asked if I babysat as they were new to the area and were looking for someone to watch their 2 & 5 year old on an occasional  Saturday night.  Since my summer wage of $1.35 an hour wasn’t cutting it, babysitting seemed like a good way to supplement my income. What happened next changed my life.  I met the entire family and fell in love. This family of 4 became my adopted family. They treated me as if I was their 3rd daughter and I loved them for it. Fast forward a lot of years, I’m still really close with this family.

    All of us at Jessica’s Rehearsal Dinner

    As I reminisced with all of her friends at the wedding each one of them told me how many memories they have from those years at camp and they were surprised to hear how much I remembered as well.

    As camp directors, we look at a variety of factors when matching counselors with groups: Personality, age, compatibility with co-counselor, etc.  I’m sure Pattie, the camp director back then never thought “hey let’s put Donna with this group of 5 year old girls so that she can make a family friend for a lifetime.”

    We always talk about all the reasons why children should go to camp but I think we should be talking about why teens should work at a camp also. There’s nothing like the friendships we make during the hot summer days.  The bonding that happens while singing silly songs and covering yourself in paint to signify your loyalty to your color war team is unmatched by any other work experience.  As camp directors it’s our job to teach young staff how to be a good employee. We teach them responsibility and work ethic.  For so many young teens this is their first employment opportunity and the things we teach them will be with them for a lifetime. A teen who is willing to work very hard in the hot sun with campers hanging all over them while ensuring their safety will make a great employee in the future. You’re welcome big corporations of the world!

    Most camps around the country are starting this week. Welcoming campers and getting ready to make memories of a lifetime. Take some time to get to know who is spending the next 8 weeks with your child, you never know if they’ll be part of your family for the next 20 years.

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