Julie Potiker is a Wexner Heritage alumna.  Julie is currently president of the San Diego Jewish Community Center.  She can be reached at Julie@potiker.com

Recently I had the opportunity to really reflect on what the Wexner Heritage education has meant to me. I was fortunate to be having a very substantive conversation with Harold Kushner when he all of a sudden asked, “So, what did you do with it?” I said, “What did I do with it? The Wexner education?” Then I said that but for my experience with Wexner Heritage, I would be a volunteer for Children’s Hospital or the United Way; I would not be a volunteer for the Jewish community. But for Wexner, I would not light Shabbos candles. But For Wexner, I would not build a Sukkah. But For Wexner, I would not have written a play for our Passover Seder when our kids were little. But for Wexner, I would never have met Danny Landes, Rosh Yeshiva of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies who has had a transformative impact on my life and the life of my family. But for Wexner, I never would have heard Danny Gordis recommend saying the Shema every night at bed time – a ritual we still have 15 years later. 

I realized that although I thought I had drifted away from Judaism in recent years, that the work I do for the JCC is actually quite Jewish and holy. Being able to institute a retirement plan for our staff is torah. Having Shalom Baby endowed is torah.

Rabbi Kushner asked me to try to “unpack” the feeling of Zen that I get when I’m sitting on a low wall in the preschool watching the kids run and play. I feel so centered there, so happy, so right. Why? No one ever asked me that before. After considering my answer for a moment, I realized that it is because the kids are so magical. Their emotions are so in the moment. They are so honest and authentic. THAT, I realize now, is so torah.