It's hard to believe that 4 weeks after walking through the gates of Achuzat Sara alone, I walk out a new person, humbled to have joined a larger family. For most people, Achuzat Sara is equated to the modern day gan edan, a place far removed from the simpleness of this world. While many of us walked through that gate on July 1st genuinely excited to take part of this modern day gan edan, I couldn't help but feel ambivalent towards it all. I became frustrated, why wasn't it clicking why wasn't this place what I had wanted it to be and more what was I missing?
Although it took some time, I realized that I had to put in the appropriate time and effort to truly see results. Step out of my comfort zone and embrace the differences set in my path - work harder to make this place feel like home, even if that meant sitting through countless conversations without understanding a word of what was being conversed or being made fun of for my Miami Hebrew education. I learned to embrace being ignored time after time because I knew that all I wanted to do was just be there. Days filled with feelings of disharmony and separation began to fade as feelings of accomplishment and impact started to flood.
Today, July 26 I no longer feel flustered or confused, I feel complete. And today, it's not because I'm happy but because these kids are. The smiles & memories wouldn't have existed without us. I finally felt it, I felt like I was in gan edan, I felt like there was something about this summer that made my girls smile and I finally felt complete.
Some things in life aren't given to you, which was very clear to me through the stories I heard this summer, and this feeling of completion wasn't one that was given to me. It was one I worked towards. Today girls I had one conversation with hugged me and thanked me, today girls I had spent hours and hours with cried in my arms and called me their sister. Today I didn't see moshiko with a dry eye. Today the bogrot (oldest group of girls) shared their last day at achuzat sara with me before graduating. They shared their tears, fears, and sadness with me as they got ready to move on to the next stages of their lives. They spent their last day at a place they called home for 10 years with someone they met a month ago. Although I came here this summer to use my time trying to better the world around us - giving a part of me up, I leave with far more than I gave - with memories and life lessons of greater value than time itself. These girls have taught me that sometimes in life you have to take chances, regardless of how many times you've been let down, to never give up when times get tough and to always make the best of any situation. They've instilled within me the bold initiative to take chances that make me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, for the rewards of doing so are immeasurable, and provided me with a constant reminder to wake every morning for the rest of my life giving others an honest chance. I found it really difficult to be thanked for what I was to these kids because they gave me so much more than I could give them. In a couple of hours I won't walk out of the gates of Achuzat Sara, I'll walk out of the gates of gan edan, and I'll feel it more than ever.