Putting your Faith in Love
By Marlee Waldman, Class of 2019
Marlee Waldman was one of six Rutgers students who attended the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial last week, along with Rutgers Hillel staff member Sarah Magida, our Reform Community Educator.
I believe that love is fragile. Too often I’ve watched relationships with people and passions deteriorate because love was not expressed as often as it should have been. Can that be prevented? Can the fragility of love be avoided?
I believe the answer is yes. Because love is fragile you must strengthen it every day. You must take the time to tell those you love that you love them; you must put faith in the things that you love. It is the only way to ensure love will thrive.
At the URJ Biennial in Orlando, Florida that I was so fortunate to attend last week with Rutgers Hillel, love was everywhere. I saw old friendships be rekindled everywhere I went. I watched as my friends whom I love remember why they love each other. I saw passionate people brilliantly support the causes that drive their lives.
Love was everywhere and unavoidable. It was the reason 5,000 Reform Jews at the Biennial made a commitment to Reform Judaism, to each other, and to bettering the world that is so strong and meaningful and completely unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the Director of the Religious Action Center, spoke about the social action initiatives that the URJ addresses every day – LGBT equality, women’s rights, and the Syrian refugee crisis, to name a few. Rabbi David Saperstein, the current US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, shared his life experiences fighting against hate, injustice, discrimination, racism, and so much more. Anat Hoffman, the leader of the Women of the Wall movement fighting for the equality of women in Israel, spoke with confidence as she said, “tolerance does not mean that we have to tolerate the intolerable.” These leaders dedicate their lives to work that they love. They inspire me to feel the same passion for whatever career path I choose to follow.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the URJ, addressed a group of college students that I was a part of, saying, “I don’t want to live in a world that waits for others to live the right way, I want us to live the right way.” Love is fragile and waiting is not the answer. The powerful, strong leaders of the Reform Movement reminded me of this lesson. This weekend, I was reminded why I love the Reform Movement and why I have devoted most of my life to ensuring its growth and success. I am lucky to have gone to Orlando and been amongst thousands of people who love this movement as much as I do. I am excited to see how the future strengthens this movement – how love will ensure its existence and stability.
Rutgers Hillel developed the Reform Outreach Initiative, the first program on any campus dedicated to the Reform Movement. With a full-time Reform Educator, a cadre of student leaders, and support for programming, the Reform Movement now has a voice on the campus with the largest Jewish undergraduate population in the country, to complement our staff’s Orthodox Rabbinic couple and Conservative Rabbi.
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