As we begin our second semester in the Interfaith Fellowship, I have been reflecting on my favorite moments of my experiences from first semester. One that really sticks out in my memory is when we were all asked to bring in an item or a piece of text that somehow represents our faith. I am very connected to my Judaism, but I am not necessarily “religious”. I consider myself to be more culturally Jewish. In saying this, I mean that aspects of Judaism that I connect with most are not prayer, or going to Synagogue. I feel most connected to my Judaism when I am with my Jewish friends, when I am doing things to improve my community/the world, when I feel connected to Israel, and when I am with my family.
That being said, when I thought about what object I would bring in to share with the group, I knew that I did not want to share any text from the Torah or anything that is “religious”. I wanted to share something that represents the parts of Judaism that I hold close to my heart—the parts of Judaism that emphasize tikkun olam (repairing the world), community, and the idea that all of us human beings on Earth are connected.
As I continued to think about what object I would bring, I was reminded of my best friend’s dad Gil, who changed my life. He once was a businessman who put on a suit for work every day and worked from 8 am until dinnertime. About six years ago, he experienced the sudden death of his brother and his perspective on life completely changed. He felt the need to truly make the world a better place and fill his soul. Following the death, he found his solace in beading blue bracelets (they are called his Blue Dragonfly Bracelets because he feels that his brother shows him signs through blue dragonflies on Earth). Gil now drives for Uber in DC, spreading the infinite love and wisdom in his heart to every person who gets in his car. He gives his bracelets to those whom he feels connected to, which is basically everyone he meets. He never leaves the house without at least a few bracelets, because he knows that he is bound to meet someone who will touch his soul everywhere he goes.
When I lived in Tel Aviv before coming to college, there were countless times I would pass street-performers, homeless people, and waiters wearing their blue bracelets, and it made me so excited to know that Gil had met them. He refuses to sell and make money off of these bracelets; he simply asks people to pay it forward with kindness. When he gives them to Jews, he asks them to perform mitzvot (good deeds) in multiples of 18 because the number 18 means life in Judaism. Gil’s message has reached over 10,000 people. 10,000 have been touched by him, and 10,000 people are all connected by these blue beads on our wrist. 10,000 people have become better people all through this one person.
When I needed to bring something in, I knew in my heart that nothing else embodies my Judaism more than my Blue Dragonfly bracelet. Every time I see it on my wrist, it reminds me of the incredible people that I have met through my Judaism; it reminds me of the fact that despite the differences between every person on this planet, we are all connected; and it reminds me of my quest to leave this world a better place than when I came into it. It is my constant reminder to be a source of light and love in a world where those can sometimes feel hard to find.