Facing the Future

By Rabbi Ellen A. Greenspan

When I signed up for a turn to write a post for this blog, I was in a different place than I am now. I have thought about starting a blog and saw this as a great opportunity to try out blogging. I did not expect that my first post would be about my own “current events.” But…here goes.

Let me be upfront – I know I am infinitely lucky. I have a beautiful 19 year old daughter who is beginning to make her own way in the world. I am fortunate to be healthy, and I am connected to a wide circle of supportive friends, colleagues and family members.

But, at the same time, I am filled with trepidation since I just deposited the last pay check I will receive from my part-time congregation of twenty years. Leaving Temple Micah of Lawrenceville, (NJ), is my choice, but that doesn’t make the leave-taking easier or less sad.

I feel ready, as my daughter begins her sophomore year in college, to open the door to the next phase of my career. But the scary part is not knowing what lies behind the door. From the time my daughter was about two and throughout her growing-up years, I always had a 2nd part-time job in addition to Temple Micah, so that I was able to manage the equivalent of an almost full-time salary. I worked for a secular social service agency; I worked for two different day schools, and I worked for our local Federation. I have always worked for non-profits, but always on the education and program side of things. I recently made a brief and disastrous full-time foray into development. Although it was not a good fit from the day I began the job, I have renewed respect for my colleagues in the non-profit world who work so hard to raise money for the wonderful institutions and programs on which we all depend. But…I thought I had a job that would see me through the transition as I leave Temple Micah – and now I don’t.

So…what am I going to do now?

First of all, I am not going to panic. I am going to remind myself that although I was not successful in this attempt at working in the field of development, I am not a failure. I am a competent, respected rabbi – with a whole congregation of people who are going to miss me.

Second of all, I am going to network with everyone I can think of and send my resume to all the jobs that I can find that interest me – but I am going to be selective and only apply for jobs I think I can actually do and would enjoy. No more jobs that require a good deal of fundraising, that is for sure.

And finally, I am going to use this time to do things I haven’t had time to do in the past. I signed up to volunteer with Limmud NY. I am going to look into working for the Obama campaign. I plan to advocate for marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.

I am NOT going to wallow in self-pity or dread about how I am going to survive without a pay check. And hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will have a new job.