"I returned to my community from the retreat infused with a new awe and care for my role. I had always cherished the possibility that people could sit together side by side with honor despite their divergent views of life, but I'd never had good models for it. I had never experienced this sort of respect in my original family and certainly not in the state of Israel, where not only Jews and Arabs but Jews and Jews were constantly at one another's throats. Now I knew what it was like to contain the tension of opposition while remaining open and honoring. I also knew how nourishing it was to listen and be listened to with equal respect. I made myself a promise never to forget what this sort of respect feels like, to bring it back in whatever ways I could to my own community, to strive for it in all my interactions.

"As I grow older, Rabbi Tarfon's words become increasingly poignant: Indeed, the day is short and the work is great. I do not believe that there is a finish line, nor even a final goal. The work of becoming whole never ends.

"Looking back on my journey so far, I see how the years have sobered me. I've finally discovered that I cannot change everything I set out to change in the world, that I must learn to live with the limitations of being human, as well as with my unanswered questions and my unhealed wounds.

"Yet I am still an incorrigible idealist. I believe in our ability as humans to live with one another side by side, regardless of our differences. The challenge is to honor and give an ear to all voices, even to the most unpleasant and critical, inside and out — the Yiddish tricksters and the angry ancestors, resistant spouses, political opponents, and even one's own flesh, and blood, who rail at us for going against the grain — to say to each and every one of them: Shamati! I have heard you.

"All voices require respectful tolerance. But only one voice must be followed. This is the voice of our own heart. It calls to us devotedly throughout our lives, and the greatest task we can undertake as humans is to listen for this voice and follow it with equal devotion. Although we may travel out of its range for years at a time, and although it may be submerged by other, more forceful voices, we can always endeavor to return to it. Because this voice of our heart will, in the end, keep us on our true life path, guiding us to our soul's secret destination."