The car slowly came to a stop in front of a house that looked extremely familiar to me. My eyes, which moments before had been drooping with fatigue after a full day of traveling, opened up wide as my brain transmitted the information. I made a quick mental review to make sure I had everything. Purse? Check. Phone? Check. Suitcase? In the trunk. That was everything.

With a sudden surge of exhilaration and excitement, I opened the car door and stepped out. As I took my suitcase from the trunk, I mused on how strange it felt that I needed to bring clothing home, that my own home wasn’t equipped with all of my essentials.

After a quick “Thank you,” I hurried to our door. Before I even knocked, I was greeted by a welcome home sign. The door opened to my mother with a welcoming smile, holding my baby sister, Yocheved. Her hair had grown so much more, making her look significantly different. My other siblings looked pretty much the same as they had a month ago. After reuniting with my family, I offered Yocheved to come to me. It made me so happy when she let me hold her; that she didn’t forget me.

I feel like my life here and in New York are worlds apart. It is so nice to be back home! I feel as if I had never left, but my community here makes sure to remind me of it. They shower me with hugs, and pepper in words that make me smile inside. Words along the lines of: “Chaya, we missed you! How is school? How is the dorm? Wow! You’ve grown so much! You are a young woman now,” are floating in my mind like blossoming flowers gaily waving in an autumn breeze, gently sinking into the abyss of my being. How I have missed this community!

Words are very powerful and make all the difference. It’s amazing to realize the effect they have on me. I could imagine that I would have very different feelings for this community if they wouldn’t have shown as much interest in me. And that applies to any person in general. I have to try to speak and show a genuine interest in people, even when I am hesitant. Oftentimes I care about someone who I don’t really know so well yet, but I don’t want to bother them, they barely know me… And my reluctant feelings wash over me, until I decide to just make it easier by staying silent.

I will keep my experience in mind whenever I am unsure of whether to talk with someone or not. It will definitely come in handy in the dorm.
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their Sukkot!