A few years ago, Yaldah ran a contest “How Yaldah Impacted my Life.” (The grand prize winner can be viewed here. More entries can be found by searching “How Yaldah Impacted my Life” on the Yaldah website.) As I prepare to leave for Eretz Yisroel, I am leaving my position at Yaldah behind (although I’ll continue to be Yaldah’s #1 fan). At this point, I would like to share with you what an impact Yaldah has made on me, and to thank you for making Yaldah what is has been.  Although there are many changes happening now at Yaldah, I hope you all continue to support Yaldah and continue make it the family it has been for me. Having graduated high school and moved on to further my education, both in Eretz Yisroel and imy”H in college, this is my last issue as Chief Operations Officer of Yaldah Magazine. As a thank you to all our dedicated readers and staff members, I would like to include an essay I wrote for my application to Lander College for Women (Touro), in which I talk about how Yaldah changed my life. The prompt was a day that changed my life.

August 20, 2006. To the average person, it was just another day. There was some flooding in Alaska due to heavy rains, and debates were raging over whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet. It was also my birthday. An eleventh birthday is a very exciting event. If being another year into the double-digits isn’t enough to make a little girl feel that she’s entered society, knowing that she’s only one year away from Bas Mitzvah confirms it. That birthday changed my life, although I didn’t know at the time what an impact it would have. On that birthday, amongst other presents, I received a subscription to Yaldah Magazine, a magazine whose motto is “for Jewish girls, by Jewish girls.”

I had always loved reading and writing. Ever since I was little, I’ve had plots for stories in my head, stories so complex that they could never really materialize. So a magazine for girls just like me was quite appealing. This gift opened up worlds for me; I could write for a magazine! Every year, Yaldah allows girls to apply to be on its Editorial Board. The editorial board puts together almost all the content for the magazine. It is composed of writers, photographers, illustrators, and girls who compile the craft, recipe, fashion and fun pages. It was an incredibly appealing opportunity. I applied and was welcomed onto the editorial board as a writer. I was thrilled with the position and fortunately I was able to spend a second year on the board.

At the beginning of my second year on the board, I was asked if I would be interested in being placed in charge of sending out a weekly email to Yaldah’s subscribers. It would include all sorts of features including Yaldah updates, ads, and divrei Torah. My new position afforded me the opportunity to further develop my writing and technological skills using the iContact e-mail program. I was quite content with my position, but as the editorial board year began to draw to a close, I was saddened that I had already passed the age limit to apply for the editorial board. It appeared to be the end of my Yaldah career.

Then in November 2011, I received the offer of a lifetime. Leah (Larson) Caras, the founder and publisher of Yaldah Magazine, offered me the position of Chief Operations Officer of the magazine. This unique opportunity was tempting and I was ready to accept immediately. However, my father cautioned me to think about the responsibility involved and the amount of time this enormous undertaking would require. After consulting with a few trustworthy mentors and family members, I delightedly informed Leah that I would be accepting the position. The responsibility for such a job was quite large, but I had decided beforehand that I would do whatever it took to balance my new job with my schoolwork and other various extracurricular activities. This promotion thrust me into a position that required organization, so I made charts to keep track of all the articles and pages that had to be completed.

When Yaldah expanded and became a monthly magazine, as opposed to its previous quarterly status, my responsibilities increased once again. I learned to manage working on three issues at once, following each step of the process, from planning out an issue to graphic design. Stepping up to the challenge also made me a more mature individual, and facing each problem and difficult task at hand with as much calm as possible raised my self esteem when I realized the extent of my capabilities.

Aside from learning about the ins and outs of publishing, writing and keeping organized, Yaldah has affected me in so many ways. I’ve made wonderful, inspiring friends from across the United States, and even some from overseas. In addition, part of my job includes communications with many staff and editorial board members, and I’ve become more sensitive to others’ feelings. I am in a position that requires prodding people, often reminding them about behind-deadline articles. When writing those emails, and other sensitive emails, I try to be as careful as possible, not wanting to risk offending any of the crew.

Yaldah has also instilled in me some of the values it stands for, mainly greatness of Jewish unity. As this idea made an impression on me, I’ve worked hard to reflect that idea in my writing; I’ve written about it in my blog posts on the Yaldah website, in my “Letter from the Editor” in various issues, and in the divrei Torah I’ve written for the weekly newsletter. The more I’ve written, the more I’ve learned that in writing, the possibilities are endless. I’ve realized the opportunity I have to influence others and to be careful about every written word.

Although I may have dreamed of working for Yaldah, I never realized six years ago how much of an impact Yaldah would have on my life. I’ve gained publishing experience, new friends and realized how much potential I have. When I graduate high school and leave my position for bigger things, like seminary and college, I know I won’t be leaving Yaldah behind. I want to try and stay involved, and most importantly, the impact Yaldah has left on me will live on in my heart.