My name is Sari Berger. I am a sophomore at Lewis & Clark College, and a few weeks ago I participated in something wonderful: the Portland Hillel Jewish Leadership Retreat.
The Jewish Leadership Retreat was one of those experiences that I entered not knowing quite what to expect. I knew I would be in a house full of 21 people, some of whom I knew but most of whom I did not. Considering my naturally shy disposition, I wasn’t quite sure if I would enjoy it.
I did. It was fun, and everyone was welcoming. However, aside from that, it also had two aspects that made the retreat a meaningful experience, as well as an enjoyable one.
The first is that I met many people whose experiences, values and traditions were very different than mine. Their expectations of and hopes for what it means to be Jewish, while similar to mine, were not exactly the same. The smallest variations in our thoughts allowed us to debate our different beliefs and discuss why we believe them. The dialogues we had allowed us to explore not only our own but others’ thoughts and ways of life, and that is always invaluable.
The second is that it gave me hope that I am not the only young Jewish person who wants to see the future of Judaism thrive. Everyone there had a different viewpoint; everyone there had the same goal. We have hope for the Jewish future. We want a Jewish future.
The Jewish Leadership Retreat brought us together, helped us communicate, and trained so that we are more prepared to bring about the Jewish future we want to see.
Sari Berger is a Sophomore at Lewis and Clark College, originally from San Diego.