Getting Settled and Taking Leaps

Now that ulpan is over, a major stage of integration is complete.  I’ve vastly improved my Hebrew skills while making connections in my new home.  The question is, what will I be doing now?  Will I continue to pursue freelance writing and editing?  Should I do a technical training course to become a technical writer or grant writer?  Should I go back to school?

In order to get a little direction, I met with a staff member at PresenTense to discuss another interest of mine.  Entering Israel and the observant Jewish community from the outside, I bring to it a different perspective and can easily see lots of room for improvement and I have an idea for a resource that I feel would greatly benefit the observant community.  The thing is, in order to build it I need the knowledge on how to get started (enter their Fellowship program) and a great investment of time.  It’s easy to say – “You believe in it.  Go make it happen!”  But, after being a student all of last year and for another five months since my aliyah, it seems that the responsible thing to do would be to be sure that I can pay my rent first.

What I’d like to do, is to create an online resource for yeshivot and seminaries that cater to students who are past the post-high school gap year age, particularly newly observant people who don’t have the tools to make a decision about what place would most help them grow.  I think that kiruv organizations that help people become more observant have a (well-intentioned) agenda that pushes students toward a particular program, and sometimes away from others.  I believe that the students themselves should be empowered to make their own decisions about the learning opportunity that is best suited towards them.  But creating such a resource and doing it well (which is the only way I’m going to do it) would involve a tremendous time investment, and of course, there are opportunity costs.
Not many people seem to understand this.  I am constantly urged to pursue learning opportunities that interest me and to provide my writing services for free.  After doing my fair share of internships and volunteer work, I think that this is a dangerous precedent to set.  Even if I am working for a place that is doing amazing work that I really believe in, the fact remains that I need a roof over my head.

I find myself alternating between chasing after different opportunities and keeping my options open and jumping head first into projects that I’m not sure of the outcome of, and making the best of them.  A perfect example of that is my aliyah.  I lived here a while first, I spoke to lots of people, I explored work and living options, but ultimately, you never know how it’s going to be until you’re in the thick of it.

Public speaker and social change activist Greg Forbes Siegman teaches that sometimes you have to take leaps.  With endeavors that I’ve leapt into, if I’ve been ready to put my heart into it, even if things didn’t turn out as planned, I’ve seldom regretted the outcome.  Every experience propels you forward to the next.  You just might have to hit a few big rocks first.

According to Jewish tradition, there seems to be both encouragement to walk boldly forward and have faith that Hashem will provide you with whatever you need, even though you might only recognize it in retrospect, but there is also strong encouragement to be responsible.  You shouldn’t just boldly go anywhere with no plan on all and expect Gd to throw you a lifeboat.

The Rolling Stones say: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might find, you get what you need.”  If you make an honest effort, you can make almost any experience worthwhile.

Not all of my job leads will pan out.  Not all of my writing projects will, either.  I might go cover a story only to find out that the publication I had in mind no longer is interested or no longer has a budget to pay me for the story.

I hope that ultimately, I will find something personally satisfying, that is a good fit for my strengths and talents, and pays the bills.

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1 Response to “Getting Settled and Taking Leaps”


  1. 1 violetswine December 13, 2009 at 1:56 am

    I think your idea to set up a website to provide more information to post-college Jews seeking to learn in Israel is an exciting one. There are definitely Jewish organizations who would be excited to fund this if you pitch it right. Do it!


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ilene

Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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