This past summer, Sarah Drozda had the honor of participating in the Jewish Federations of North America’s Jewish Changemakers Fellowship alongside fellow Buffalonians Seth Blum and Changemaker Coach Shiri Kester. She reflects on that experience for My Jewish Buffalo.
I am sure that I am not the only person that felt like this, but this past summer and the few months leading up to it, was a really overwhelming time for me. There was so much happening both personally and globally, and I felt like there was no way for me to keep up! I wanted to help, but I didn’t know where to start. I had a voice, but I didn’t know how to use it. Even if I knew where to begin, I lacked the confidence I needed to make a difference.
When I was informed that I had been chosen for the Changemakers Fellowship, I was automatically ready to go – I didn’t want to wait another few weeks to begin. Each day of the Fellowship would start off with a podcast and a daily challenge that fellows were able to do on their own time. Some of the challenges focused on personal growth, while others encouraged direct action, such as signing up to volunteer for an organization that one may have been putting off. The Fellowship involved a required core session followed by electives that fellows could choose from – most days I had a hard time choosing because there were so many great ones to attend!
The Fellowship sessions opened the door to engage in difficult discussions that we may normally stray from but are so necessary in order to make progress. There were two really important lessons I learned that I want to share – the first by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz who said to find one or two causes that you are passionate about and put your all energy into those efforts. You will make more a difference, he said, doing that than trying to fix everything. Personally, I could present a huge list of causes I care about, but if I tried to do them all, my impact might actually be less. The second was given by Rabbi Sandra Lawson who said to take the time for self-care, especially on Shabbat which is a gift given to us each week. We cannot put our best into repairing the world if we do not take the time to take care of ourselves as well. After participating in this fellowship, I now have the confidence to make a difference and won’t hesitate to use my voice and stand up for what’s right.
Sarah Drozda is a graduate student in Museum Studies at Buffalo State and actively involved with Nickel City Jews.