Between Us: Let’s talk about being yourself

Between Us

This week’s parasha is Vayetze. In the first ten verses, we read the word, makom – “place” – seven times as Jacob moves from place to place, finding a way to connect with God. Today, we each strive to find our own makom, our own place in society and in our community.

Defining oneself has never been an easy task. When we were kids, we compared ourselves to those individuals closest to us in order to help us measure and define who we are. As we grew up, we defined ourselves – as did Jacob – by moving away from our parents, creating new lives for ourselves.

A Google search of the phrase “find yourself” turns up 89 million hits. While there seems to be no limit as to how many ways there are to find oneself, there is at least one way that won’t work: trying to become someone else. Jacob dressed up as his brother and tried to pass himself off as Esau. But only by being honest with himself did he change from being Jacob to being known as Israel.

As we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, we also consider our roles in the community – not by comparing ourselves to others (or becoming someone else), but by finding the own makom that works for us. At The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, we call this “Make it Yours.” We urge you to get involved with Federation or any other Jewish community organization or synagogue — live your passion, voice your hunger for change and express what is important to you. We each have a critical role to play in the development of our Jewish community. We just need to find the right place.