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Be Proud and Share With Each Other

I led a Jewish topic group at the June 1993 Young Adult Women's Workshop in Massachusetts, USA. My goal for this group was to think freshly about young and young adult Jewish women, but I think pieces of it apply to young adult Jewish males too.

Since we were very young, each of us has always had a sense of what we want for ourselves, for our people, and for the world. However, almost anytime we have gone public with our dreams, or shown any sign of enthusiasm, we have been made fun of, told not to "get our hopes up," that we'd understand once we got older, and that our ideas and optimism were "cute."

We should never have been teased for being excited about things. It is right and good to have hopes and dreams for the world and to expect everything of ourselves. It is great to be openly thrilled to be alive, obviously excited about something we've done, are doing, or plan to do.

The way we get treated when we openly show our passion results from a number of things: young people's oppression, Jewish oppression, and sexism. As young, female Jews, we are told that we are ridiculous for wanting so much. By insisting that we, as young, Jewish females are never again going to settle for anything less than absolutely everything, we are contradicting our deepest humiliation and patterns of victimization.

In order to make the work on "no limits" even more effective for us as young Jewish females, there are some pieces of our oppression that I think we need to understand more fully.

I think there is an unquestioned assumption in many of our heads that going all the way with what we want would be a betrayal to our mothers. Somehow, it seems that if we really loved our moms, we would stay glued to their sides and venture very little beyond where they were able to reach. It feels like our being "bigger" and bolder would be a direct insult to our mothers by bringing to light their difficulties and scorning their fears. So, in "respect" of our mothers, we deny ourselves the lives we really want.

In reality, the best respect we could possibly pay to our mothers would be to model living a life of no limits. When we scorn their fears, we are not scorning our mothers. Our parents are not their patterns, and they don't want to be, even if they defend their patterns as part of their personality or their "Jewishness." If they feel betrayed, they are simply asking to be client, and we can choose when we want to listen and when we don't.

Often, we do not hold out high expectations for ourselves or for each other because we are scared we will be disappointed. There is no such thing as present-time disappointment. Any way that you consciously try and "avoid" being disappointed, is a place in your life where you are settling. It's a chronic feeling that we need to discharge, and it distracts us from our inherently zestful selves and our exciting lives.

Another result of having our passion made fun of is that we can't always set goals for ourselves. I think goals are important and useful for a couple of reasons:

1. With a clear goal in mind we can set a path for ourselves. This gives us a place to constantly push ourselves forward, taking charge of what we want, and not just settling with whatever gets sent our way.

2. Goals encourage us to be specific, concrete, and to think big. Be daring with your goals. What are they really? (What's your first thought?) Don't be "realistic," or pare them down to avoid being laughed at. What are your wildest dreams? Have your counselor listen to you with complete respect, and ask you over and over.

I expect each of you to take yourselves seriously to the extent that you say your goals out loud and make plans in the direction of your goals. This is not to get overwhelmed or beat yourself up with. You know the challenges you face and what you would like to accomplish. What are some realistic next steps? What are some eventual steps? What's the final goal?

Send in your goals and steps toward them! Gloat about everything you have done! Be proud, and share with us!

As young Jews, let's remember to be visible in everything we do. Talk to people. Start support groups and classes. Remind people of young people's liberation and of Jewish liberation and keep them both moving in your Area. Take an active role in planning a Community Seder for 1994, and make sure young people are well thought about. Remember to have lots of fun. Play hard!

Tresa Elguera
reprinted from the Young and Young Adult Jews
RC Information Coordinator newsletter

Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00