When I arrived in Israel at seventeen with my guitar, trombone, bicycle and some clothes, I was in pursuit of a dream. I really had no idea what the dream was; it was just a heavy tug somewhere between my heart and my soul, and I trusted that the pull would lead me to a good place.

Within my first year in Israel the dream began to take a more defined shape, but by then I was already jaded enough to tuck it back under my pillow as just a dream. I had come from a difficult beginning and shown up in Israel wanting to learn about my spiritual tradition, but with a strong fear and distrust of authority and establishment. I had visited all of the seminaries that existed in Jerusalem at that time and found that, while they would be able to teach me the facts and information I was looking for, none of them were able to see or access the real, broken me searching for Divine help to break out of a very uncomfortable shell. After trying one of those schools for about two months, the plea inside turned into a scream so loud that I ran away.

None of them were able to see or access the real me Eventually I found an apartment with some other girls, and an evening job, and I started attending an intensive Hebrew language course to improve my Hebrew. I continued my Jewish education and growth slowly and on my own terms.

There was a beautiful old stone building not far from my home that was not in use. Two large stories of empty structure seemed to be winking at me, letting me know that some day I might turn it into a place of Jewish learning for young women who, like me, were searching for deep healing in their souls. And, like me, could not seem to find a place that fit. Then of course I would laugh at myself, an eighteen-year-old waitress with barely a year of Jewish knowledge and practice. But what could I do? That place just kept on winking at me.

As that year came to a close, I knew that I would have to go to college the following year. I wanted to make something of myself, but was quite clueless as to what. I had applied to Hebrew University, but I knew that I needed to be in a different atmosphere. It was getting dangerously close to the upcoming school year and I didn't yet know what to do. One day I bumped into my aunt in the street, and when she hugged me and asked me how I was doing, looking all too knowingly into my eyes, I just burst into tears.

She took me home, gave me home-made cake and hot chocolate, and heard me out. Where I was and where I could be were so abysmally far from each other. Would it be possible to bridge the gap? I don't remember exactly what I said in that conversation but I doubt I was too clear, yet she somehow understood what I needed, and maybe in that moment she was a personification of the hand of G‑d nudging me in the right direction.

She sent me to apply to an Israeli Jewish women's college in Jerusalem. The lady in the admissions office quickly assessed my situation, and told me that with my broken Hebrew and lack of Jewish background I would do well to spend a year in a program geared to beginners and apply the following year. Anyway, admissions were closed and classes were starting in two weeks. I wasn't about to spill my heart and my tears to this rather stuffy lady, so I went back and spilled them to my aunt.

Although I made many mistakes I was accepted To make a long story short, she spoke to the dean, who "happened" to have known my holy and deeply knowledgeable grandmother forty years earlier, long before I was born. He said that if he would be able to give me a chance to be a little more like my Bubbie, then he had done something worthwhile by founding the school. He interviewed me that week, and even though I made many stumbling mistakes trying to translate the Hebrew he put in front of me, he accepted me into the program.

I loved the atmosphere at the school. I was surrounded by happy, intelligent young women who were warm and helpful to me. Although it was clear that I was very different from them, they adopted me, took me home to meet their families, and studied with me for the tests. The classes that first semester were torture. My Hebrew was a far cry from academic. Even when I understood the language, the Jewish context was lost on me. My classmates had a lifetime of religious education. I had just a year.

I was constantly nervous that I would be "discovered," that the staff would realize how very little I knew and would ask me to leave, as it was clear to me that I really didn't belong with young women of this caliber. One of my first exams there I got a "D" with "Very Good!" written next to it. How did my teacher know that a D in 'mission impossible' (i.e., her class) meant more to me than all of the A's that I had gotten in my advanced classes in high school?

As those years passed I received my education backwards. Most people start with the more basic and continue with the more advanced details. I was thrown in right away to the advanced classes, but over time filled in the missing background. I wondered however, if I were able to graduate from this program, who would ever hire me? I would be graduating along with hundreds of others who were so much more advanced. But between classes, student teaching, and taking advantage of the pool and library on campus, I had little time to worry about it.

Eventually, after a lot of hard work and a fair dose of miracles, I graduated. My dream of bringing healing through spiritual study seemed to be a thing of the past as school after school expressed no interest in my resume. After awhile, one seminary did hire me to do a course on prayer. While my training had given me the skills to give over the material to the students, I realized that there was something missing. It wasn't enough to understand the texts. There needed to be some sort of shared experience of striving towards G‑d, and to get to that point there had to be a level of trust between me and the students that I had not yet achieved.

Soon after that I moved to Tsfat, where I found a job at a small seminary. My first class there was a flailing disaster. One of the girls actually got up and started belly dancing in "appreciation" of the material being taught! I tried to quit a few times, but the principal believed in me more than I believed in myself, would give me a few tips and tell me to try just another couple of weeks. Over time I found that I was able to get to know and deeply respect many of the young women there. Once the relationship was based on some understanding of how the goals of the class would bring them closer to their goals as individuals, we were able to really make progress.

I choose not to limit G‑d, or His estimation of me Many years have passed since then, and today I am a young grandmother. Well, not really, I'm only thirty one. But when my students send me pictures of their beautiful families I can't help but feel the joy and pride that any bona fide bubbie would. I have seen girls who showed up with dark eyes and blank stares grow into beautiful young women shining with the smiles of their children; young ladies who were afraid to relate and to trust, come to joyously embrace people they would have previously avoided.

Ten or twelve years ago I would never have imagined that I would be the educational director of a respected place of Jewish learning. Having experienced the greatness of G‑d in my life thus far, when I think of where I might be ten or twelve years from now I choose not to limit G‑d, or His estimation of me.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that G‑d decrees for us all that will be in the coming year: Who will live and who will die, how prosperous we will be, who will be well and who will be ill. But, interestingly, we don't spend the day beseeching G‑d to give us the kind of life that we would wish for ourselves and our loved ones, rather we spend it acknowledging the Kingship of G‑d. Why?

If I had followed my own ambitions and perceptions of what I was capable of I would probably be living on a farm milking cows. I would probably not have children- who can take on the responsibility of raising a child in today's world. I would never have become a teacher; I would surely have given up after the belly dancing fiasco, if I had even made it that far.

G‑d had a higher vision for me. Along with the blessings of the last decade of my life I've had my fair share of hard times. But when I stand before G‑d and acknowledge Him as my King, I realize that the hard times have been a fine pickling brine that have given me a more refined and palpable flavor.

What can I ask for that will not be limiting to some degree? G‑d is infinite, and as one of His beloved daughters I trust in His vision for me. I will hope and pray to stay close to Him, and have the patience to ride out the bumpy road. I don't know what the future will look like, but I am choosing to go ahead because I have seen in my life so far that dreams and aspirations, even those that seem very far fetched, can become realities if we stubbornly continue to put one foot in front of the other. Looking back I see now that the dream itself is a gift from a place beyond myself. If I can help one young woman to access her own dreams and come closer to her true potential, I will be passing on the gift that I have received.