Blessings Received, Blessings Given
June 28, 2024
By Susan Goldberg Schwartz

I have my 50th High School Reunion this summer! How can that be? It seems that I was just 18, feeling excited and anxious about what would come next. Today those feelings of excitement and anxiety are back as I wonder what comes next as I leave the working world. What will give my life meaning after having had such an enriching, fulfilling and transformational career?

As a lifelong Jewish learner, I find abundant insights from the teachings of our sages, who continually challenge us in our modern world. Hasidic Rebbi Nachman of Breslov wrote, “the day you were born is the day God decided that the world could no longer exist without you.” These words offer a clue as to what retirement is or is not. Every individual is essential; the world is our responsibility and our job (paid or not!) is to make the world a better place.

While I always thought I would follow my Mom and become a teacher, the Jewish community became my classroom. I have spent the last 35 years engaging in Jewish life with young families and preschoolers, B’nai Mitzvah students and young adults, and most recently, with the older adult community, in particular, women ages 60+.

I have spent the past seven years guiding women in discussions about how to live with purpose, intention, enthusiasm, and spirit as they age. It’s now time that I follow my own advice.

I have learned the importance of living in the moment and not dwelling on what might have been or worrying about the future. I am who I am because of the life I have lived, the good and bad, joys and loss, choices, challenges, and successes. I count my blessings and live with gratitude.

I am blessed with a loving family, successful adult children and amazing grandchildren, a loving and supportive husband, and a brother and sister-in-law who share my passion for Jewish life. I have childhood friends, and new friends that feel like lifetime friends. I have spent a career immersed in Torah learning and teaching, in a community where I am valued and loved. My life is filled with blessings and experiences I never imagined.

As I step away from working, I am excited to see what awaits. And, as I continue to say to those wishing me a “Happy Retirement”, I am not leaving! As long as I have breath, I have a responsibility to help make this world a better place. More importantly, I am invested in Jewish Buffalo’s future for my children and grandchildren and generations to come.

The work I have been privileged to do has been a gift. As I am now older and wiser, I not only understand the blessings I have, but I can also give my blessings. With deep gratitude, I close with my blessing to you, in the words of Debbie Friedman, z’’l:

For my teachers and their students
And for the students of their students
We ask for peace and lovingkindness, and let us say: Amen.
And for those who study Torah here and everywhere
May they be blessed with all they need, and let us say: Amen.

 

Susan Goldberg Schwartz is retiring this month from Buffalo Jewish Federation as one LiNK’s Jewish educators.

Blessings Received, Blessings Given - susan retirement party staff
Blessings Received, Blessings Given - Jewish Thought of the week 2022