As we reflect on this past week, it’s hard to believe that our summer is winding down. Our final program is getting ready to spend their final Shabbat together in Yorkin, Costa Rica, and it will be another 10 months before we feel the next rush of excitement of having hundreds of teens around the world with Mitzvah Corps.
In the Torah, we’ve reached Devarim, the first chapter in the final book of Deuteronomy. Moses, in the month leading up to his passing, begins to recall and review all that has happened to the children of Israel. He celebrates their collective successes, reminds them of the lessons of their failures, and encourages them to continue observing the commandments that have been passed down.
Here in New York, we’ve been doing the same. Celebrating our successes; that hundreds of teens stepped out of their comfort zones this summer to engage in powerful work, that we worked with refugees, embraced sustainable farming, empowered workforces, lobbied on Capitol Hill, rebuilt from Hurricane Katrina, met with civil rights leaders, engaged with various faiths in Israel, learned about renewable energy, supported rural development, continued building cities, packed adobe bricks, and carried on legacies. We also consider ways to learn from our failures; in addition to what we identify ourselves, we take the feedback from each and every participant survey very seriously, and use the comments and experiences of our teens to adjust course as we move forward. Finally, we adhere to our own commandments, revisiting our mission and philosophy, and look ahead to ways that we can expand our reach, bringing the Mitzvah Corps experience to more teens, more communities, and more lives around the world.
We’re looking back to look forward, and what we see is a network of countless parents, teachers, mentors, clergy, participants, partners, and families that have been instrumental in our experience. To each and every one of you, todah raba, thank you, so very deeply, for supporting this life changing work.
Alexa and Jonah