by Dalia Krusner, Mayyim Hayyim Intern

This fall marks a year since I arrived in Boston. In late August of 2016, I packed up my life in Toronto and drove southeast for 9 hours to begin graduate school. I was excited about everything that lay ahead and what I had to gain. At the same time, I was also nervous about what I was leaving behind, and all that I could lose.

Aside from extended stays in Israel, I had never lived outside of Toronto before. I went to the University of Toronto for my undergraduate degree, my central social circles consisted of childhood and camp friends, and I had never lived further than a 15-minute drive from my parents’ house. I also had a job that I loved, doing work that I felt was important, and was deeply engaged and invested in the Toronto Jewish community on both personal and professional levels.

Now, at 26 years old, I find myself embarking on the quintessential American college experience of picking up in a new city and making new friends for the first time. And I wasn’t only moving to a new city – I was moving to America. I was leaving the newly-elected Justin Trudeau for a vicious election cycle and a political climate that felt distinctly un-Canadian. With my partner embarking on his own professional adventure in northern California, I worried that I would feel alone and out of place in my new home.

Looking back now, I know that the move was hard. It was stressful and exhausting to adapt to a new place – to need a GPS to get to the grocery store and for every personal interaction to be a new one. But it was also not nearly as hard as it might have been, and for that I have the Jewish community to thank. I have never before been so thankful for Jewish communal structures and ties. Being Jewish meant that I didn’t have to start from scratch. There were Shabbat dinners, neighborhood meet-and-greets, and social action initiatives just waiting for me to step into them. Just one short year after moving to a new country, I feel that I have a full circle of friends and a robust community that I can call my own. This is not everyone’s experience, and it’s a great privilege that I don’t take lightly.

While I still miss Toronto and hope to return to my community there, I have been completely blown away by the levels of Jewish innovation, diversity, and inclusivity in the Boston area. Mayyim Hayyim embodies this perhaps more than any other organization I have encountered. As an MBA student, I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to intern at a pioneering organization that exemplifies non-profit best practices. As a Jew, I feel blessed to spend 15 hours a week in this hub of spiritual activity. This space is truly the epitome of the Jewish values of welcoming and caring for one another that I have learned to be so thankful for this year.

As I sit at my computer on Mayyim Hayyim’s mezzanine level and review expense budgets and funding pyramids, a chorus of “Mazel Tovs” and joyful singing floats up to me from the atrium between the mikveh pools. In moments like this, I know that I have gained all that I hoped to with my move. In being surrounded by others’ life transitions, I also know how lucky I am that this place has been a part of my transition, too.

Dalia Krusner is currently pursuing her MBA in Nonprofit Management and her MA in Jewish Professional Leadership from the Hornstein dual degree program at Brandeis University. Prior to returning to school, Dalia served as the Youth Leadership Manager at Ve’ahavta, a Jewish charitable social service organization, and as Director of Heart to Heart, a program that brings Jewish and Arab Israeli teens to an overnight camp every summer for dialogue programming. She is also proud to be an award recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program.