Starting Fresh by Irina Missiuro


Irina Missiuro is a writer and past participant on the JWRP momentum trip. Contact Irina at

Not long after I returned from my JWRP Momentum trip in July, Adrienne Gold Davis, one of the trip leaders, posted a video that struck a chord with me. In it, she shared a parable about a man who came to a rabbi for advice. The man was taking care of a tree he planted but wasn’t seeing any results and felt frustrated with the lack of progress after a year. Thankfully, he didn’t abandon the tree and was rewarded with a giant bamboo that grew 90 feet in three weeks. In the video, Gold Davis encouraged her viewers to trust the process, delaying gratification and investing in something that matters. She said, “Under the surface of everything, a system is growing to enable you to shoot up strong when the time is right.” She could have been speaking to me directly.

This Rosh Hashanah, like most Jewish people, I contemplate the concept of new beginnings. The Mussaf prayer teaches us to abstain from any pursuits that are inherently wrong. The prayer goes on to point out that greatness encompasses our intentions and failures in addition to our achievements. We are told to give ourselves credit for our effort to overcome obstacles. I had plenty of those this year, and it’s only September. In eight months, I faced an onslaught of problems ranging from annoying to catastrophic.

My family survived a week in February without heat due to a broken boiler. I battled home insurance adjusters. I faced financial struggles that arose from paying to repair my car, paying taxes, replacing a broken washing machine and hiring a lawyer. I spent a half an hour per day for two months vacuuming melted snow in my basement. I drove in snowstorms to acupuncture treatments to ease my sciatica and attended physical therapy to provide relief for a damaged nerve in my neck. I could go on but it gets repetitive.

The point is, I am still here, and I am standing strong. As Jews, we are to go after positive influences in our quest to be happy. Sometimes that involves a detour. In my case, this year has been all about the giant bamboo tree or, rather, the big picture. In addition to giving myself credit, I would like to offer it to the people in my life who propped me up, supporting my every move, encouraging my every step. My friends and family helped tremendously, and I would not be where I am without their kindness.

For the next year, I will be working full-time in an environment that has already begun to entice me with its newness and eccentricity. Hearing the shofar, we are reminded to improve not only in our day-to-day tasks, but also in our relationships. At the moment, every one of my relationships is healthy. I am surrounded by loving people about whom I care deeply. I feel fortunate and renewed.

Wishing everyone a Shana Tova Umetuka (a good and sweet year).


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