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Incongruous – out of place; absurd; odd.  Not in accord or consistent.

In other words, my life over the past three weeks.  And the irony is not lost on me that my incongruous experiences took place on opposite coasts.

It started with two weeks in California on a college campus, living in a dorm, showering in communal bathrooms, eating cafeteria food, studying in university classrooms.

A mere 14 hours of travel (2 in a bus, 5 at an airport, 6 on a plane, one in a car) brought me to a whole other world – a resort hotel in New York with piles of pillows on the bed, flat screen TV, a private marble bathroom, conference rooms with comfortable chairs and gourmet snacks.

That’s just the external stuff.  Here’s the real difference.

In California I studied Jewish texts in Hebrew, meditated and prayed, translated psalms and more, all so that one day I can be a rabbi, hopefully a good one, serving my community.  I was with rabbis and cantors and students and lay people from the Jewish Renewal movement, all passionate about Judaism.

In New York I sat in conversations about million- and multi-million dollar charitable gifts, with a goal of raising over half a billion dollars so that the Technion can be the among the world’s best research universities.  I was with fundraisers and administrators from the American Technion Society, all passionate about Israel.

Hugely different, no?  Yes.  But the truth is that they are remarkably similar and I feel lucky to be a part of both, even if their worlds are… well, worlds apart.  They’re like mirror images of each other; incredibly dedicated groups of Jews wanting the best for the Jewish community, for Israel, and (not to be too grand about it) for all of humanity.

So what if I’m shallow enough to have been wildly happy about the fancy hotel room after the spartan dorm?  I’m only human.