Long to belong

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

I traveled to Indianapolis this past weekend with a group of people for a half marathon which included running a lap where the Indy 500 runs. It was not one of my better performances, but what I will remember is the community of runners I traveled and spent time with during this time. I often think that the relationships is why I run at all sorts of times and weather.

I have also been reflecting upon the Torah study classes I have been teaching at CAJE for many years. We just finished yet another year. For the most part we have been the same group of students. We welcome new individuals with open arms — who quickly feel an integral part of the class.

It’s all about feeling a sense of belonging and community, isn’t it? I see this in the skilled and assisted living facilities. Whether you are a young child looking to fit in or well past 90, we all long to belong. I visit some residents who tell me they are too shy to reach out to people so they stay by themselves. Others think “bonds” have already been established and won’t approach people who seem to already be friends.

No matter how young or old we are, extending ourselves is challenging. Yet, I experience first-hand how integral it is to have a place we feel comfortable. I am already planning a fast-paced walking group in my senior center. And who knows, maybe they will study Torah as well!