Thank you, YJ: A Reflection On My First Big Girl Job

When I was first hired at Young Judaea a few months after making Aliyah and graduating college, I was scared for my life. The most rigorous job I'd ever had was teaching Zumba at the Y and babysitting three sisters who insisted on calling me Guapa. I was sure that they had made a mistake in hiring me, and knew that soon they would learn I was a skill-less 22-year-old with zero drive to do anything other than eating Thai food and watching Broad City.
On the first day of work I met my new supervisor, an Orthodox 35-year-old British man who would be my first real boss ever. I never could have imagined that 10 months later this guy would be more like a weird older brother / uncle to me. He told his kids I was Auntie Lena, had me over for Shabbat meals, comforted me when I cried in the office (not my most professional moment), consulted me on the negative affects of consuming too much soy milk, gave me my first Hebrew name, asked me relentlessly about the Kardashians, and got me sufganyot on my birthday. One day, he will hopefully be the efficient at my wedding. Adam taught me that in Israel, it's possible for even strangers to become family.
This lesson carried on throughout my time in Young Judaea. My other supervisor, Rafi, helped me with my lease when I signed onto my first Israeli apartment. I went with Rachel to her wedding dress fittings, listened to non-stop country music with Emily, asked for relationship advice from Nadav, and partied with Dafna on more than one occasion. I then met a new tzevet member who used to help me figure out menial computer problems, and is now my amazing boyfriend.
Young Judaea attracts a special type of person - one that cares deeply for the movement, not just in ideology but in its passion for human connection, inclusiveness, team work and love.
Almost a year later, I no longer identify as Guapa the Thai food girl. I'm now confident in offering valuable skills that contribute to the betterment of the organization. None of this would have happened without the passion I developed for the movement, the work I was doing as a Content Manager, and more than anything, the warmth I received from my Young Judaea family.
In my first year of being an olah, I changed a lot. But nothing gave me more happiness, frustration, support, challenges, growth, and fulfillment than YJ. As my chapter with them closes and I move on, I'll always remember this movement as one rooted in love.