Our Stories

Who Will You Bring Along for the Ride?

By Dona Standel, Director of Development at Camp Ramah in Northern California, and Voices for Good Fellowship Alumna

“Ema, I finished the puzzle!”
“Wow! And you did it by yourself?”
“Yeah! All by myself!”
“You worked so hard! Good job boobah.”

A typical interaction in my household, and many other households, irks me as I frantically and silently search for another way to show praise. But it’s too late. Engrained in my psyche from an early age, I automatically praise my five-year-old on doing something “all by herself.” If only we knew at that young age that there’s no “I” in team, that we’re surrounded by support, and inviting help is a gift to those around us. (Because I tend to be analytical, I of course think this is a symptom of a capitalistic society driven by individualist attitudes and serves no one. But I digress.)

As a lifelong learner, it’s taken me some time to truly practice what I preach in asking for support when I need it. My colleagues have stayed on the phone with me while I tackle an important communication. I have Zoom coffees with a mentor (another Voices for Good Fellowship alumna) who not only teaches me menial tasks like mail merge but also coaches me, reminding me of my worth when imposter syndrome comes knocking. I learned to bring people along for the ride so that we can experience mutual growth in the holy work we do.

Much like personal success, Jewish life is not done alone – it’s an action we do together. We celebrate in community and we mourn in community. We learn, grow, and thrive together.

As a parent, partner, and professional, I practice deliberate curiosity and I love asking questions. I have found this practice to break the ice and better – encourages others to ask their own questions! The more of us there are capable of asking for a hand, the more of us there will be lending a hand. We need each other, and we must learn to call on one another. It’s not cheating and we’re not imposing. The bonus? We feel a heightened sense of purpose and belonging, bringing us to lead authentically and be the change-makers we yearn to be.

Can you imagine how many complex puzzles we can solve if we’re in it together? Perhaps instead of asking our young ones “And you did it all by yourself?,” we should be asking, “And who did you bring along for the ride?”

Voices for Good Fellowship

Jewish LearningWorks’ Voices for Good Fellowship was created as an affinity space for women leaders in Jewish communal organizations. During the two-year program, they build collegial relationships, explore of Jewish values in leadership, and address challenges unique to women in Jewish professional life.

Meet the current Voices for Good fellows, and other alumnae like Dona Standel.