What’s in your suitcase now?

Posted on March 16, 2014

The members of JECELI Cohort 2 have been back from the JECELI Israel Seminar now for two weeks. Most of us, I’m sure, have packed and put away our physical suitcases. We may still have gifts to distribute, and additions to our homes that may see their first use at upcoming holidays.

However, I know for myself that there is a great deal that I am still unpacking from my experiences. The thoughts and feelings that I took with me were gathered from both our engagement with historical/geographical sites (like Independence Hall, Yad Vashem, and the desert), but also from the many early childhood programs. Some of the tightly packed ideas that I will be unfolding include:

  • Leadership in service to a powerful community vision in contrast to leadership that aims “to get a job done”
  • Relationships that are intentional both because of  a culture of love of others and a history of loss
  • Inclusion of the other and what it means to try to identify the self AS the other
  • The integration of culture into the self in a way that supports independence and risk-taking while remaining within the bounds of the society

We can’t always take the children and their families on a  field trip to Israel. We CAN let them participate in our own unpacking of the ideas, feelings, and expressions that we are carrying home with us. I believe that, already, some of the values that were so strongly exhibited during our time there are becoming a part of who I am as a Jew. These values, and how we value Israel every day through our tefillot (prayers), Torah stories, and holidays, can make Israel present in our early childhood programs.

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