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  • Writer's pictureJodi Samuels

My Unexpected Call to Speak at Hampton Synagogue

One Shabbat morning, as I sat in the comforting environment of Hampton Synagogue, something rather unexpected occurred. Rabbi Marc Schneir a figure of wisdom and leadership, called upon me to address the congregation. This was not just any request – I was being asked to shed light on the pivotal work we do at JICNY, the Jewish International Connection. My heart raced, adrenaline surging, both excited and terrified in the same breath.

Before diving into that thrilling experience, I tried to remind myself that JICNY isn’t just an organization – it's a beacon for many, a home away from home, connecting Jewish professionals from around the world. Specifically, our matchmaking efforts stand out, linking hearts and souls in lifelong partnerships.

Back to that memorable morning, my initial reaction was pure shock. Me? Speaking in front of this discerning audience? I felt my cheeks warm, and for a split second, I could hear my own heart pounding loudly in my ears, as if echoing through the sacred walls of the shul.

The honor of being asked by a Rabbi was immense. His belief in me and our mission at JICNY was clear. But with that came an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Would I do justice to our cause? Would I find the right words?

I reminded myself of the countless individuals we've touched through JICNY. Their stories, their smiles, the matches made – these gave me strength.

Speaking about JICNY’s mission, our successes, and the beautiful stories of matches made was not just a presentation, but a heartfelt narrative.

But my address that day wasn't just about JICNY. It was a deep dive into personal resilience. Life has a way of throwing curveballs, testing our mettle at unexpected junctures. And on that podium, I found myself sharing my own journey, the challenges I've faced, and the resilience that saw me through. There's a power in vulnerability, and in sharing my experiences, I hoped to inspire others to find strength during their own trials.

As I wrapped up my talk, the applause and the subsequent conversation were moments of affirmation. It reminded me of the shared human experiences that bind us, the resilience we all harbor, and the beautiful surprises life offers when we least expect them.

That day at the Hampton Synagogue, led by the esteemed Rabbi Marc Schneier, wasn't just another Shabbat. It was a testament to the power of community, inclusion, stories, and resilience.

~ Jodi


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