Shana Tova, everyone. For those of you who I haven’t met yet, my name is Rachel Ramos, and I am the Innovations Fellow at Purdue Hillel. Not the most straightforward job title out there by far. Innovation is the process of bringing about something new. To institute change that betters the lives of those around you.
However, to create something new, you must start with “Hineni.” Here I am. Throughout the Torah, when God first calls upon leaders to make a significant change or sacrifice, the response, Hineni, is given. It is given when God calls on Moses to lead his people from slavery, and generations earlier, when God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Vayehi achar hadevarim ha'eleh veha'Elokim nisa et-Avraham vayomer elav Avraham vayomer hineni. God tested Avraham. He called out to him Avraham, and Avraham responded, Hineni! Here I am. It is both a call to action, a way to say, I am ready! And an Acknowledgment of where you are starting.
There will be times throughout your lives when you will be called upon to embark on an epic journey. Your choices will bring forth more change than you know what to do with. And while some of that change can be joyous, like starting a new job, or making new connections with others, other types of change may be heartbreaking. It will require significant personal sacrifice and may affect your definition of normal.
A year ago, to the day, I was diagnosed as diabetic. That diagnosis changed the direction my life was going in. I had to pause my applications to Rabbinical school because I couldn’t risk going to a new country when my health was still fluctuating so wildly. I was devastated and scared and had no idea what my future would look like.
It was during that time of great personal struggle that I had my Hineni moment. While searching for post-college jobs, I applied for a position here at Hillel. At that moment, I had to dig deep within myself and say, “Here I am! I have struggled, but I have learned. I have suffered, but I am stronger for it. I am ready!”
Each one of you has journeyed so far to get here today. You persevered through a pandemic. You applied to college, made new friends, and formed exciting new connections with the Jewish community.
So, the next time you are faced with a chance to lead, to bring about change in your life. Remember that you made it here today. And if you can do that, you can do anything. Hineni! You are here, and you are ready for whatever challenges you may face in 5783.
Rachel Ramos | Engagement Associate, Purdue Hillel
Rosh Hashanah II Sermon 5783
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