What's Your Why?
First, let's get the disclosures out of the way: no Jewish educator is in it for the money. We're most likely not in it for the perks either (although I do enjoy having the chagim 'off,' if you can call it that). But we get up every day and engage in what I proudly refer to as the sacred work of Jewish education. We work long hours, wear numerous hats, and juggle countless community leader-politics, all because we care so deeply about our work and the awesome responsibility before us. We can talk forever about what we do. But for today, I want to talk about our whys.
So, Jewish educators, what's your why?
Why do you give so much of yourself to your students, to your colleagues, to the Jewish people?
Why do you spend your 'free' time reading, studying, questioning, searching for more and more information and awareness of your content?
Why are you so proud of the work that you do, paid and unpaid, for the betterment of the Jewish people?
We've all heard the old adage that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach.
I believe that those who can't do anything else because we are so called and compelled to connect with our learners teach.
I believe that those who can't contain our passion for both content and people teach.
I teach because it makes me the best version of myself. As an educator, I'm more thoughtful than I would be otherwise, more openminded, and more engaged. I'm motivated to constantly better myself, both in terms of my knowledge, my skills, and my relationships with others. I'm able to challenge myself, to see things from perspectives that I never would otherwise, and to watch others come alive as they interact with the topics that I love most in the world. I teach because it gives me a chance to be a bringer of light, and to be a link in the chain between generations, retelling stories and writing new ones that are part of something much greater than myself.
My why as a Jewish educator is simultaneously simple and complex: It's because I'm drawn to this role like I'm drawn to love - it feels more natural than anything I've ever experienced otherwise, providing me with both a constant and with infinite new challenges. It makes me who I am.