OTZMA is over.
It's hard to think about, let alone type that and see it there in black and white.
It's also really, really hard to believe. For more than a year now, June 23rd was a fictional date in the future when OTZMA would end and I would go home to my friends and family in Syracuse. Today is June 24th. That fictional date in the future is now in the past. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" has been my mantra the last few days. But there have still been quite a few tears. I compared it to leaving CSL at the end of the summer....except longer and you know everyone won't be back next June. And then I cried again. I never could have imagined I make the kind of friends that I made this year.
The thing is, this year was really special. I could go on and on about our tiyul, our staff, the group, whatever, but I won't. I think what happened at Havdallah on Saturday night was the most perfect closing moment, and no one could have planned it if they tried. It's just the most perfect example of the cohesiveness this of this group of people. As the sun went down on Saturday and gave way to a full moon shining on the Kinneret, I tried to light the Havdallah candle. But it was windy. Too windy to light by myself. Aurel came over to help. Aimee stepped in to block the wind. We worked together to light multiple matches at the same time while blocking the wind. No go. A few more people came over to help. We struck the last match. Nothing. We could have given up. We could have done Havdallah without a candle. But it was definitely worth one last try. A perfect analogy to this year, we literally bonded together against the wind, tightening our circle enough to block the wind. As the 9 wicks on the candle caught fire, everyone's voices got louder and joined together. If we started to separate, the candle would flicker. Standing in the middle of that circle with the candle held high, I felt so incredibly loved. Maybe you had to be there, but it just felt so amazing to have so many people around you that truly care about you, celebrating the change from Shabbat to the rest of the week, from a year on OTZMA to whatever comes next. OTZMA 27, it was a heck of a way to go out. So much love for every single one of you.