As I say goodbye to the daily grind, Im grateful for so much

This space has been reserved for me for weeks now, which is not a big deal normally. But today, Jan. 28, is my last day at j. Next week I begin work as an account coordinator in the sports division of CBS Interactive.

As I prepare to make the leap from the familiar newsroom to the new realm of online media, I have been reflecting on some of the news I covered and people I met during my 2 1/2 years at j. Some of the highlights:

• Watching 1,500 young athletes storm the University of San Francisco campus for the 2009 JCC Maccabi Games, hosted by the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. After writing article upon article about the dire need for volunteers who could provide air mattresses, stocked refrigerators and washing machines, it was great to see the community step up to the plate and the weeklong display of sports and camaraderie go off successfully.

• Stepping off the plane in Israel for the first time. Looking back on my participation last March in the Murray Fromson Media Mission at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, I can rattle off stops on our itinerary that left me in awe, among them gazing up at the Western Wall after dark and meeting college students who were living voluntarily in a rough neighborhood to mentor young residents. I hope to go back some day.

• Getting caught up in the vitriol while covering a counterprotest to a pro-Palestinian rally. The rage stemming from both sides of the demonstration at City Hall in San Francisco opened my eyes to how far we have to go — in the Bay Area and elsewhere — before finding common ground. My objectivity was tested that day.

• Sipping more wine and eating more chocolate than I probably should have during several tasting events. One benefit of covering the Bay Area Jewish community is the plethora of wineries and chocolatiers that happily open their doors and provide samples to the community. It’s unfair even to call those “assignments.”

• Listening to Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum recall his memories of marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. At 84, the rabbi emeritus at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City shared details of the day he marched with King, including a chance meeting with the civil rights leader. The poignant conversation will stay with me for a long time.

• Chatting up “Friends” co-creator David Crane. I am positive my friends and family are tired of me bragging that Crane said I could beat him in the show’s edition of “Scene It?” To me, it will never get old.

When I moved to San Francisco nearly three years ago, I did not expect my career in journalism to take a religious turn. In fact, I was pining for a job where I could take notes from the sidelines of a football game or interview athletes in the locker room.

That was my comfort zone. And I have j. to thank for pulling me out and throwing me into the Jewish community. Being present at synagogue events, JCC openings and Israel in the Gardens (to name a few) was not just a necessity for work. It was an instant conversation starter with strangers, many of whom have become my friends.

The same is true of my colleagues. I am thankful for the opportunity to interact with talented writers, meticulous editors, hard-working advertising reps and everyone who keeps j. running on a daily basis. Putting an issue “to bed” every Wednesday wouldn’t happen without such dedication.

And to you, the readers: I hope you have found a way to connect with my articles, even if it sometimes incensed you enough to write a letter to the editor or me personally. To say I have reported on a variety of subjects is quite an understatement, and I value the time and interest you took in my work.

If journalism is literature in a hurry, then I am content with my three-plus years in an industry that tests your fortitude every day. I will miss the daily grind, but I am grateful to have been a part of it.