I believe things happen for a reason, because in my soul I know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. The fact that we are connected implies that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. We are all part of a larger picture.
As an educator and artist, my painting illustrates the power of community in inspiring change.
Working with young adults during their years in college allows me to see through their eyes. It’s inspiring to see them pursuing civility as they wrap their arms around the uniqueness of each person. They question with unwavering curiosity and draw within self understanding that drives them to a life of integrity. This inspires courageous leadership and tzedekah; or as Virginia Tech would say, “Ut Prosim” (that I may serve). This journey develops a person who will take positive actions to make the world a better place.
As Executive Director of Hillel at Virginia Tech, I have the privilege to share these experiences over and over again through each unique students’ eyes. What a motivation it is to feel and share each journey. I am reminded of the first time my son understood that the light switch connected to the light going on in a room. His face showed a brilliance of understanding that could have lit up the room itself.
Like the work of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond professionals and lay leaders, our work is grounded in traditional Jewish values of Tzedakah, deeds of loving kindness, justice and Tikkun Olam, which call upon us to rescue the imperiled, care for the vulnerable and help assure the vitality of Jewish life in Blacksburg, Richmond, in Israel and around the world. Connecting 2,000 students each year to their spirituality, their talents and their uniqueness is an amazing and inspiring opportunity to assist the next generation, to embrace these values, and begin taking action in their communities and the world.
Sue Kurtz is the Executive Director of Hillel at Virginia Tech.