I’ve been trying to digest the passing of a girl I’ve never crossed paths with until recently when the words epitomizing the wonderful woman she was inundated my Facebook timeline. “A woman of chesed,” seemed to be the overarching value she held. In Judaism we are taught that no death is untimely; That G-d takes back his creations at their perfect time. I’ve witnessed time act as an agent of knowledge. And that only time could really reveal hidden truths, or ‘coincidences’. It’s no coincidence that chesed, the very midda associated with Daniella has been something personally on my mind before her passing.
My college workload coupled with the slave labor (internships) I took upon myself gave me little room to breathe. My mind felt fulfilled and I was growing the connections I needed in an industry I always wanted to be a part of. But there was something missing. There was something corporate America couldn’t give me. A different kind of fulfillment. I started envying those that made chesed (the kind of chesed you really go out of your way for) an integral part of their every day lives and decided to take my winter and spring semester off to really dedicate my time to something more meaningful. I ended up turning down an internship offer at a major publication and accepted a position at a chesed organization to work on their publication that highlights all the services they provide for our community. My friends thought I was absolutely insane. And I’m sure if I discussed the two opportunities with my career mentor she would advise me to take the prominent internship in order to advance my career.
My decision though to work for this organization is probably the best decision I made for myself and for my career, here’s why:
1: Chesed is Rejuvenation: Clearly, we are part of a burnt-out generation. We see it especially in the fashion industry; the likes of Alber Elbaz and Raf Simmons stepping down from their ranking because the pressure was too real to handle. I felt myself slowly melting away under the burden of the fashion industry and needed a break to rejuvenate. Doing chesed is the ultimate rejuvenation.
2: Chesed is Meaningful: Instead of going home from a 9 to 7 day thinking about whose expenses I have to do tomorrow I can think, who can I help tomorrow? There is much more incentive and intrinsic fulfillment knowing the outcome of your work is visible and impactful.
3: Chesed is Networking: (As if you don’t hear that word enough.) You meet a ton of great people working through a chesed organization, many of who CAN help advance your career. You really never know whom you’ll meet and how they can help you in your future.
4: Chesed is Individuality: It’s a place where you can earn your stripes. Instead of feeling at the bottom at the totem pole or a miniscule part of a project, you’ll be able to oversee every detail that goes into a project at a smaller organization. At my last internship I only got to work on one page of the whole magazine. Here, I can really watch something grow from start to fruition.
5: Chesed is Appreciation: I always thought I wanted a career that seemed impressive. While I think that’s important and something I will strive for, I think it’s more important to strive for a career that will make you happy. It’s better to feel like you’re utilizing your talents in a workplace that appreciates your skillset than to get the most impressive job title. Chesed makes you feel appreciated and appreciative.
Lastly, the kind of person Daniella was, was the kind of woman I always envied; A woman who truly integrates chesed into their every day lives. And I don’t think it’s coincidence, rather it’s perfect timing that her passing impacted my decision to take the job offer. May the chesed I do onward be in her zechut.