Debbie Gerofsky participated in Eser last year and is slated to lead a special Eser group this year for those in their 30s. She shares what Eser means to her and invites you to get involved.
Imagine a “night in” at a friend’s house. What comes to mind? Most likely, the images are of spirited conversations that cover all kinds of topics, laughter, food, and comfort – things that lead to great memories. When I participated in Eser last winter, I experienced those things from the moment I walked in the door. A collection of strangers helped create a nurturing atmosphere that provided space for debate, rest, and education (ironically, those were three of the “Top Ten” innovations included in last year’s curriculum).
I looked forward to each week’s Eser night, as it contained a great balance of fun and learning. The sessions provided me with the time and opportunity to reflect on my Jewish identity and to think about how to strengthen the values and ideals to which I am committed. This was due in large part to our facilitator, Rabbi Neil Hirsch, and the way in which he responded to the various strengths, hopes, and needs of our Newton crew. I valued his humor and appreciation of each individual. Despite the range in ages, educational background and observance levels, everyone in the group respected one another. We were encouraged to share our opinions, and did so in a way that enabled people to feel safe to open up and also to challenge one another.
Since I am grateful for what the Eser experience offered me, I am paying it forward by being a part of this year’s planning committee and co-facilitating the Brookline group for those in their 30s. I am excited to be a part of this new group that will bring together folks at a similar life-stage. As the next Top Ten curriculum, “Influential Jews,” unfolds, we will come to know people such as Stan Lee, Golda Meir, and Moses, and discover ways in which they contributed to our community. I look forward to meeting new participants, reconnecting with former ones, and contributing to an energized Eser community. I hope you will join me in creating more Eser memories!
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