By Matthew Ghan
What happens when you bring some of the best leaders from all across North America together in one space? In our opening week conference, one of the main goals was to bond as a cohort. Throughout the week we participated in many fellow-led activities. One of these activities was the classic “Build a Spaghetti tower with a Marshmellow” on the top. Fellows were put into groups and had to build the tallest tower possible with a marshmallow standing on top. With our 20 minutes of building time, connections were made, and we engaged in powerful discussions about how to bring together the Jewish community. For many fellows on Nashon, this was their first time interacting with others outside their denomination or community. By doing this our perspectives began to widen and we were able to learn from one another. In this activity, we had to learn together, think differently and simply construct a large tower.
What came of this activity was not only the towers, but leaders connecting, thinking differently, and most importantly engaging in dialogue. It was this activity that set the stage for the semester we are about to have. In a time where hate for others is at an all-time high, our communities need dialogue and forward thinking. Similarly to the activity where every perspective was important and valuable, within the fellows, there are radically different opinions on politics and religion, as well as members of every different movement. This same value reigns true in our everyday work as Nashon Fellows working to create more vibrant Jewish communities.
This activity sounded so simple on the surface, but it was everything but that. Every member of the team had to jump in and give their perspective. My group used this as an opportunity to discuss the different ways we see Judaism. It was in this moment that bridges began to be made and we all realized that we are stronger together. That does not mean we always need to agree, but we need to see and accept people for who they are. Ultimately we are as strong as the towers, and communities, we build. Within that one week, so much strength was built. I can’t wait to strengthen these communities and towers in the rest of the semester…