Jun 2010

At a Crossroads

Daniel Aronson is a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumnus and director of congregational learning at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County in Richboro, PA. He can be reached at daronson@ohev.org

In February 2008, well into my fourth year as director of annual giving at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, I found myself at a crossroads. I had been feeling unsatisfied in my position for some time when, quite unexpectedly, an opportunity appeared, like a ram in the thicket, that would offer me happiness, fulfillment and kedusha.  At that moment, I changed direction and applied to become director of congregational learning at the synagogue where I work today.

The path I had been on was leading me to places I didn’t want to go. I found myself for the most part sitting behind a computer for hours a day doing work that kept me from relating with all but my co-workers. The institution had changed in ways I did not like. Conversations about work at the dinner table had become tinged with discontentment.

At the same time, I was realizing that what had sustained me professionally in recent years were my divrei torah at staff meetings and some b’nai mitzvah tutoring “on the side.” Plus, it was becoming clear why so many of my mentors for the last 20 years were Jewish educators: it was their footsteps in which I wanted to follow!

Alas, a job placement list appeared in my inbox that included a position as education director at a nearby congregation where I earlier had done some work and which I secretly had hoped would offer me a job one day. My new leadership path was then well defined.