Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
I’ve never been much of a journal-keeper. As a child, I started many a diary, but never finished any of them. After a whopping two entries, I’d usually just… stop. I found a few diaries years later, read those two entries, and was so embarrassed by my past-self’s musings that I threw them away.
However, living in a new state, working a new job, living the life of a traveling ISJL Education Fellow, I have started a new chapter (ba dum tss)! And suddenly… I’m journaling.
I was gifted a travel journal for my college graduation from a family friend. Upon receiving the present, I looked at it fondly and thought “one day, maybe I’ll use this,” and put it on my bookshelf. It wasn’t until I was preparing to head out on my first summer visit to Tallahassee, Florida, that I picked up that travel journal and packed it in my bag.
After a long day of travel and schmoozing, I was finally able to take a moment for myself, breathe, sit on my bed in a lovely guest cottage, and think about the day’s events. I reached into my bag, grabbed my journal, a nice pen, and just . . . wrote it all down. Every bit, from the details of the pick-up, to the crazy bathroom stops, to the food I ordered at restaurants, to the people I met and the interactions I had.
And it all came so easily. I finally appreciated the process. I finally enjoyed writing down my reflections; having the opportunity to think about all that I was doing, all that I was seeing, and all the folks I was meeting; thinking about when I happen to pick up this journal years from now and am able to remember (in explicit detail) everything from a special Shabbat service in a small-town synagogue to the most amazing, luxurious, delectable, mouth-watering cheesecake I enjoyed at a little restaurant right outside of Fayetteville, Georgia.
Journaling at this stage in my life offers me so much more than it did in the past. I’m able to stop time and reflect, process, remember . . . much better and more thoughtful than my past journaling, which included cringe-y musings about people I had crushes on and an embarrassing amount of confusion about unexpected hair growth and body changes.
Though I am just beginning this fellowship and am so excited for all to come, I can’t wait to look back at a journal full of memories. A journal full of trips with my fellow Fellows turned friends; a journal full of anecdotes of the community members I meet and stay with in my time on the road as a traveling Jewish educator; a journal full of notes about good restaurants and those special desserts I can still remember the taste of when I re-read the entry; a journal full of moments that led to laughter and tears and smiles and songs and good times; a journal reflecting my growth over the next two years.
I know so much will change, for the only thing constant is change! But having the opportunity to journal it all, from the times I thought I wouldn’t be good enough to the times I was assured I was doing the right thing with my life, fills me with such excitement for the future and such purpose with each day that comes.
Here’s to journaling Jewish journeys!