Encapsulating Our Summer Session

We want to say farewell to summer, 
and hello to an incredible fall semester, starting today at Mayanot! 

Danielle Collins, our women's program summer student, wrote this beautiful poem encapsulating her experience learning with us. We hope it moves you as much as it did the students at the end of the summer session banquet this year. 

I crave change 
Not a temporary stint
Of fleeting passion
But an all-encompassing
Radical shift
In thought, speech, and action

Inspired by a new objective
My G-dly soul moves quickly with intention
To have a head start in the race
It will sprint the first few weeks
At an unprecedented pace
But my animal soul follows closely behind
Fully prepared to take its place
At any sign of spiritual weakness
It will sacrifice
To end up victorious

Yet as soon as the animal within
Is stirred to attention
My neshama immediately jumps into action
Of pouring in concrete to cement
The birth
Of a solid Jewish foundation

Is something I long to understand
How G-d could let a whole world
Be derived
From two perfect people who sinned

How do I stand a chance then?
If Chava ate from the tree so quickly
She was built in G-d’s image
Yet succumbed to her surroundings
And most basic temptations

I am not cut out for this
I am not strong enough to take the heat
From all my friends
Who refuse to believe
When striking a balance between
My Jewish and secular communities
Is so much harder
Than it once seemed

But I discovered
That the key
Could actually be
Hidden in
Adam and Chava’s story

That to Hashem
No woman or man
Can ever be expected
To achieve true perfection 

All He asks
Is that we each try our best
To rise above our unique challenges 
And succeed at His countless tests

I guess
Somewhere inside
My path feels right
And though I will fall countless times
I will pick myself up
And brush off the dirt
They say a soul is perfect
It just needs to be cleansed a bit first

And when I will fall
It is not a matter of if
Hashem will be there
To envelop me in His embrace
Letting me know I’m never alone
And revealing a glimpse
Of His infinite mercy

He knows that I am strong enough
He knows I can take the heat
That is the very reason
He won’t make the journey easy

Yet every time I take another leap
Without wings
Knowing that I will likely fall flat on my face
There is a chance that I might fly
And He appreciates that I aspire
To keep ascending
Just a little bit higher

The struggle to climb another rung
Is what He values most 
No matter where I start from
Or what number rung I eventually reach
He will be there to hug me
When suddenly
I am terrified of heights

And when I’m feeling alright
When my hands and feet are secure
And my grip feels tight 
He will be a loving guide
With a gentle hand on my back
Pressing lightly to nudge me
When I am ready to take that next step

What I crave 
It’s to take that drastic leap of faith
And start slowly making the changes
To become who I want to be
With G-d as my compass
There is actually so much more room for me
When I take a step back
And stand in awe of His presence

In thought,
It will be a radical shift
In practice,
Grounded in gradual stints
And plans to disrupt the world with
Thoughtful acts of kindness 
It is the very definition
Of a healthy life mission

So if this is my truest essence
Then there is absolutely nothing
Illogical, irrational, or radical
About surrendering to it

Wishing all our summer students much hatzlacha going forward! 
And of course we hope you come back and visit us soon!