The most fulfilling aspect of my job on a day-to-day basis is that I get to help guide young Jewish leaders along in their unique Jewish journeys, and in turn become a source of inspiration.
I am not a Rabbi. I did not go through years of training to become a professional Jewish educator. I am, however, proud of my Judaism and passionate about ensuring a strong Jewish continuity. I feel an obligation to give back and help create meaningful, stimulating and diverse opportunities for the next generation of Jewish leaders, so that they may go on and enrich the world.
I often like to think of my role in Hillel as similar to that of the role of an art teacher. All week, my students sit at their desks with their faces pushed up close to their paintings, their efforts and attention being given to each of the tiny details that make up the section they are working on. The students can become so absorbed in the details, in their own chaotic lives, that they lose sight of the bigger picture they hope to create.
It is my role, together with the individual, to help them take a step back – to help them articulate their vision for the kind of picture they wish to paint; to consider what questions they must first address and what it will look like when they are successful; to provide them with tools, knowledge and skills training so that they may realize that vision; and to inspire them to see the process through. In this sense, Hillel professionals truly are on the front-lines of Jewish inspiration. What could be more fulfilling than that?
Seth Finkelstein (pictured, left, with Jewish Terps on their recent Alternative Break trip to Zagreb, Croatia) is the Jewish Student Life Coordinator at Maryland Hillel. Originally from Philadelphia, Seth oversees the 30+ Jewish student groups at Maryland and helps coordinate engaging programs and opportunities for Jewish Terps.