Newlyweds Click with NextGen
Natalie: Growing up, I went to a Christian church with my best friend a lot. It was fun, but it just never clicked. I think I had certain core beliefs and values that were never expressed through any religion until I came here. My friend, Bonnie Kennelly (a congregant in the WiseGen group), invited me to Wise Temple. I fell in love with everything I heard, and it all made sense to me. Tikkun olam, the holidays, the traditions and the meaning behind them – all of it. About a year later, I decided to convert to Judaism. I feel like I was born Jewish but it wasn’t official until I was in my 20s!
Josh: That was my in. That’s how I got her to date me. “Hey, I’m Jewish. Look at me!”
Natalie: I didn’t believe him at first. I thought it was a really weird pickup line. When he showed me pictures of himself at the wall in Israel, I finally believed him.
Josh: One of the greatest influences in my life is my grandpa who is a Holocaust survivor. He’s 91 and is a very special person in my life. He told me the story of how he was the one who answered the door when the Nazis came for them. It’s a terrible story, but I have a sense of pride being the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
Genuinely Good People
Josh: The first time we came to a NextGen event we had this overwhelming sense that everyone here was a genuinely good person. It made us want to be surrounded by that. We kept coming back and now we have a great group of friends. We found our community here.
Natalie: With NextGen, getting to create this community that we’ll have throughout the next stages of our lives is so big. It’s important to be around other people who have similar interests and values, and who are our age. I love that it’s not just sitting and listening – it’s having conversations and thinking things through with other people and getting their perspective.
Josh: And it’s not just the social stuff. Coming to temple is a good time to reflect on life, and to be thankful for everything we have and to ask for continued help for our friends and family who need it. On a Friday night, there might be other things to do, but every time we come, it feels right. We need it. Once we’re here, it’s like, “Ah.”
A Teaspoon Is Within Our Power
Natalie: The best thing to happen to me this last year, other than marrying my best friend, was a trip to the Women of Reform Judaism social justice conference in DC. One thing they talked about was when putting out a fire, if you don’t have a bucket, if everyone brought a teaspoon of water, you could still put out the fire. It was a beautiful and true idea. I was so inspired. It really made me think about how I spend my time, and how best to use my “Gifts, Passions and Skills” that Wise Temple talks about.
Josh: Natalie is so passionate about social action. At her core, she genuinely wants to make the world better. We daydream about starting a nonprofit and using our professional skills to help coach families going through hard times. We can’t quite pull the trigger yet, but luckily, we have opportunities through NextGen and Wise Temple to give back now – to do things like Wise Family Shelter.
Natalie: For now, we have power over our teaspoons. Little things are doable and anything we do to repair the world is huge.