Friday, October 31, 2008

Ode to Hillel on Friday afternoons

It's Friday afternoon at Hillel. I'm drinking mint tea, listening to the rain, and waiting for Shabbat. Friday afternoon is the best part of the week at Hillel. It's so festive! Soon the interns will show up and we'll start chopping vegetables and boiling water for soup and the whole room will smell warm and fragrant. People will stop by to help out or hang out or both. We'll make decorations. We'll listen to bad Israeli pop music I don't understand.

Once 5:30pm rolls around, we'll be in panic mode - "The students will be here in an hour and we still haven't done x or y or z or all of the above!" But from about 12pm-4pm at Hillel on Fridays, everyone is excited and happy. There's no panic. Only giggling and making dinner and cutting out autumn leaves for table decorations.

I was a student here for six years. Hillel was the family I came home to, every Friday night, all through undergrad and my masters program. Now I'm the Program Director, and everything is different. Instead of attending events, I'm planning and organizing them. I just spent an hour with the new JSU President, helping her come up with a meeting agenda and brainstorming ways to get students more involved. It comes very naturally to me, and I love it, despite all the stress. Sometimes I have to keep myself from working for 14 hours a day because there's just so much to DO. No doubt about it, Hillel is a challenge.

But something happens on Friday afternoons, especially when we know it will be a mellow Shabbat. For a few hours, all of my work feels like a blessing, all of the stress is worthwhile, and Hillel, once again, feels like home.

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