gap year in israel

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by Yael Schwartz from Rockville, Maryland

After growing out my hair for several years, one of the first things I did out of quarantine was get it all chopped off. I’ve donated my hair before, so this wasn’t a new concept. But when you’ve spent so long trying to grow it out, it can be hard to let it go. I figured that if I was going to cut it anyway, I might as well give it to someone in need.

On Tuesday, our first day of freedom, we had some time to explore, so I strolled into the hair salon and asked the hairdresser if it was long enough to donate. There came the point when he was about to take the scissors to my hair. I was nervous and excited all at once. I found myself saying out loud, “No turning back now.” He asked me if I was sure, and I said, with a surprising confidence, “Yes.” I knew that even though this was a big change, hair grows back. It was a tough decision, but at the same time, I knew it was right. Change isn’t the enemy. It’s a friend. It’s a sign of growth.

This is the approach I’m walking into the High Holidays with. It’s not exactly the “new year, new me” sentiment. There are some parts of me that it’s time to move on from, to make room for growth. I know that those parts have benefitted me, and can continue to benefit others. I’m not getting rid of those old parts of me; they’re still in the world and have an effect on people. Change can be hard to embrace, but we know that nothing is permanent.

Let the changes come, be flexible, and stroll into the new year with the same feelings as I had when I was in that salon.

This is the time to say goodbye to the Ellie of High School, and say hello to the Yael of this new chapter of my life. It’s time for a new start, leaving behind the metaphorical and literal split ends of my life, and to allow new hair to be healthy and grow.

May you all be healthy and grow this year, and have a Shana Tova U’Metuka.