As my yearlong position as The CJN’s campus columnist nears its end, I cannot help but reflect on my term. As a columnist, I was given the opportunity to learn about a plethora of people and discuss topics such as Israel’s branding initiatives, different interfaith projects, the value of Holocaust education and even about Igbo Jews in Nigeria. After much thought about how to best sign off, I decided to compile a list of the top 10 things I have realized over the past year.
1) Judaism is truly a remarkable religion and the State of Israel is indispensable to Jews throughout the world, whether you support it or not. Though I can’t say I’m an expert on Buddhism or Jainism or Christianity, I can say, through my experience that the Jewish community is tight-knit, generous, caring and genuine. Due to our unique history during which we faced oppression, slavery, genocide, abuse, ill treatment and other similar disasters, we have been able to rise up stronger and more unified than ever.
2) There is a phrase that goes as follows: “A barking dog is more useful than a sleeping lion.” Find your passion, commit to it, act on it and be prepared to defend it. My passion lies in the future of our Jewish community. In other words, as my mom always says to me and I will now relay to you, go and be fabulous in everything and anything that you do.
3) Sometimes subjects or issues that may interest you may not interest those around you. Do not be discouraged! Nonetheless, associating yourself with others who are like-minded can be quite inspiring.
4) My dad said in his speech at my bat mitzvah almost eight years ago: “Do not go to where the path may lead. Instead, go to where there is no path and lead a trail.” I truly think this mantra is applicable to anyone in any walk of life. Never be meek. Always be bold.
5) Never brush away opportunities as they may come. Every action has a reaction, and some opportunities arrive in interesting ways and during the most unsuspecting of times.
6) Not everyone will always agree with your opinions, but welcome criticism and judgment with respect and an open mind.
7) One of the best feelings is watching your hard work come to fruition. Seeing any project become and be successful is highly rewarding.
8) Some of the best lessons are learned outside of the classroom. I enjoy school and academia, but I know that authentic tests stretch far beyond exams and some of the most intelligent individuals are not professors and may not possess PhDs.
9) Know that success is not predicated on luck. Rather, the recipe for success requires additional ingredients such as hard work, determination, confidence and persistence.
10) I recently came across an excellent quote by Benjamin Franklin that I thought would be fitting to wrap up my list. He said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Words to definitely live by.
During the year, I have learned that writing can be a powerful tool. It can untangle complex ideas and insights, tell stories, solve mundane problems and even evoke change. Writing, in my view, is one of the purest forms of expression, and I am humbled to have been given the chance to communicate with you. I bid farewell, with gratitude for this special opportunity.
It is absolutely imperative that Jewish students continue to be given means and opportunities, such as the one I was fortunately provided with, to safeguard the name of our indispensable State of Israel, preserve our vital Jewish values and customs and comment on vital issues of the day through the paramount vehicle of the written word.