Measured By Who Is Included
I officially took up golf last summer. It took some time to get the ball lofted, longer to move beyond the par three course near my house, and even longer to feel comfortable playing with anyone other than family. It’s an intimidating sport and you really can’t help but feel like everyone out there is playing circles around you.
Watching the pros battle it out each weekend, the struggle is real. They get into trouble, they figure it out, they surge, they fall. It’s humbling for even the best. And then Tiger won the Masters, again. Wow.
“People don’t understand that when I grew up, I was never the most talented. I was never the biggest. I was never the fastest. I certainly was never the strongest. The only thing I had was my work ethic, and that’s been what has gotten me this far.”
– Tiger Woods
Of my four kids, I’ve got one die-hard golfer. He’s a high school senior and we recently went on our final college visits before Decision Day. We lugged our clubs through three airports to check out the golf scene in both Oregon and Arizona. While Henry browsed for tee times online, I followed the college admissions scandal.
Today, kids apply to lots of schools, casting a wide net in terms of geography, school size and acceptance rates. I was struck by the commitment to inclusion pronounced at both schools we visited. The University of Oregon shared a “…profound duty and mission to promote and celebrate diversity of all types. Bringing people of different backgrounds and beliefs together lifts communities.”
At Arizona State University, their new charter, known by every faculty member and administrator, explains that the University is “measured not by who it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed.” The contrast in how these schools describe themselves compared to newspaper headlines and peer pressure is palpable. Henry was taken by 300 days of sunshine, the on-campus golf course and impressive business school. But it was ASU’s mission that had me at “Hello.”
As a Jewish Community Center, inclusion is at the heart of all we do. All denominations, all abilities are welcome and feel at home at the J. Throughout the Passover holiday, JCC Chicago has hosted Seders for hundreds of preschoolers, connected community members to holiday celebrations throughout Chicagoland, welcomed individuals seeking engagement through fitness and recreation, and announced the surprise upset of matzo ball soup in the first ever Matzo Madness bracket—there is truly something for everyone.
My own family attended two Seders hosted by dear friends and it felt wonderful to be included. While the celebrations were different, both fulfilled the mitzvot of the holiday, both were warm, both were accessible. My husband and I capped the holiday weekend playing a round of 18 after celebrating the 18th of our ASU-bound senior. There was something for everyone.
Henry’s already making a list. He needs more shorts, he’d like a skateboard to get around campus, the Tempe golf pass. He’s looking for his roommate—there’s an app for that. And he recently asked, “How do you make friends in college?” I have no doubt he’ll find where he fits, that he’ll be included in his new community. And that he’ll find his way back home next year to join us at the table with friends who have become family.
Chag Sameach from my JCC family to yours,