Today is one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar – Yom Kippur, day of atonement. A day to reflect on the year that has passed, and the year that lies before us, and to engage in some genuine introspection into who we have been, are and want to be. It’s a really poignant time for me as I reflect on the transformational trajectory I have recently embraced. A month ago, I made the physical move from London to Melbourne, but since making that move, I have also experienced a mental and emotional transformation as I am morphing into everything I know that I can be. I am in an exciting, supportive and inspiring new workplace; I’m about to move in a new apartment, purchase a new car, and start a new training regime. They say that ‘you are only one decision away from a totally different life’ and this couldn’t be further from the truth for me – I definitely don’t do things by halves! I’m incredibly excited about what lies ahead for me because I know how much I am capable of – as Napoleon Hill once said ‘whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve‘ – he was a wise man, Napoleon. However, having said this, I also know that I haven’t achieved these things in isolation – ironically, we need safety and security to explore and pursue change and ultimately, leave that safe haven; it’s how babies develop their sense of identity and it’s how I have been able to develop mine.
As I sat in synagogue last night on the eve on Yom Kippur, I looked around me and had a small epiphany as I realised the background significance that Judaism has played in my life over the past five years. When I first arrived in Melbourne, back in January 2012, I knew no one here. I was connecting with a few travelling friends at the time, but I had no roots here – Melbourne, as a city, was no different to any other city I had visited on my travels. However, purely by luck, I managed to secure an au pair role with a Jewish family and although I didn’t know this at the time, I truly believe this changed my life forever. They gave me the gift of acceptance and inclusion – they brought me into their world, gave me a sense of belonging and connection, and a sense of security and safety which is so core to building a sense of self; it is this which enabled me discover the courage to go out into the community and build the friendships I am blessed with today. Yes, they were and are beautiful people but amidst all the change that I was experiencing at the time, and indeed the change I am experiencing today, my Jewish roots connected us on an implicit level and they continue to ground me today, and this is incredibly comforting.
Happiness this week is….. Judaism – my constant. As I sat in synagogue last night, I closed my eyes and listened to the beautiful melodies and meaningful words and although I am not a heavily observant Jew, I simply felt so grateful to be a part of something bigger than myself, even though I am so far from home. I acquired solace in the knowledge that my family in London (albeit at a slightly different time) were doing exactly the same thing as me, even though there is so much physical distance between us, and that’s what Judaism is for me – that invisible thread of connection. One of the first questions that people ask me is whether I have any family in Melbourne to ease the transition and I often have to pause before I answer ‘no’. This is because I often feel that the community, the family I once au paired for and my special friends here, are part of my family – the ones I have created for myself, and interestingly, amidst the excitement of change, I have come to realise that it is these constants in our lives which being us true and lasting joy. When did a part of your identity anchor you in times of change?