Kavanah: Items with Intention

Kavanah: Items with Intention

From Victoria Ardelean

As an incoming freshman at the Joint Program between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Columbia University, I am selling items inscribed with kavanah —Hebrew for intention— with the goal of funding my education.

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Kavanah is the Hebrew word for direction, intention, or purpose. In its simplest meaning, it refers to concentrating the mind in the performance of a religious act, ensuring that it doesn’t devolve into rote, mechanical action. It is most commonly associated with concentration and intention in Jewish prayer, but the concept of kavanah applies to all mitzvot (commandments).”*


So often, when we go about our daily lives, we are easily caught up in the day to day: every step becoming an arduous routine void of meaning in any way, shape or form. We so often forget it is necessary to have intention behind our actions, getting stuck in the mechanics and forgetting why we do what we do.

To have kavanah is to have intention for each action we take.

With your support, my intention for the next four years is to attend the Joint Program between JTS and Columbia University as well as provide YOU with beautiful items to remember your own kavanah throughout each day.


My name is Victoria Ardelean. I'm 19 years old and from Dallas, Texas. When not panicking about funding my college education, one can find me with my head in a book, or more often, hard at work at Coffee House Cafe in North Dallas as a server and manager where I’ve been for nearly four years, working up to 65 hours a week during the summer to ensure I have funds saved for school.


As the oldest of five in a blended family, I spend most of my time with my incredible younger siblings (Lainey, 13, Evan, 13, Chloe, 10, and Harper, 2 weeks!) and my wonderful parents and step-parents, who instilled within me the set of values I hold so dear.

Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, my parents were forced to drop out of high school. My father was a political refugee who escaped a communist regime as a teenager, enlisted in the United States Marines Corps to serve the country that allowed him refuge and then used his GI Bill to attend the University of Texas at Dallas. My mother was forced into homelessness at the age of 16, which caused her to drop out of high school and temporarily give up any future prospect of higher education; however, with the willpower of a superhero, she climbed her way to an institution of higher learning ultimately earning a Masters Degree with no high school diploma.

Against all odds, my parents persevered to pursue their education. They passed their strong commitment to continuous learning to me and I am striving to do the same. Education is a foundation for freedom and it’s my intention to make them proud of my relentless drive to reflect this value for generations to come.

To complete the financing of the freshman year of my education, I’m still lacking $10,332.15, which is the primary goal of my campaign. At the end of my four-year undergraduate education, I will receive a degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Jewish Ethics, and a degree from Columbia University in Economics. Out of the $297,120 that the program costs, I’ve raised a considerable amount through scholarships, grants, and loans, and will continue to work throughout school while living in New York, however in order to complete both degrees, I need to raise $75,607.15: my stretch goal for this campaign.

As a crowdfunding platform, Fundly allows me to connect with backers like you to raise the funds I need for my education, as well as provide YOU with items to remember your own kavanah throughout your each and every day. I am thankful for each and every backer, and your contribution matters tremendously.


With every pledge at $10 or above, you will receive a 5 x 3 inch kavanah sticker to remind you of your intentions. 

With every pledge at $18 or above, you will receive a kavanah sticker and a kavanah bookmark to remind you of your intentions and mark your journey along the way. 

With every pledge at $54 or above, you will receive a kavanah sticker, a kavanah bookmark, and a spiral-bound, laminated 100-page kavanah notebook to write down your intentions and put them into action.


With every pledge at $108 or above, you will receive the kavanah sticker and a 7mm x 5mm sterling silver charm (with either a sterling silver chain or leather strap, depending on your preference) to serve as a constant reminder of your daily intentions. 

With every pledge at $144 or above, you will receive the kavanah sticker, the notebook, the bookmark, and a7mm x5mm sterling silver bracelet (with either a sterling silver chain or leather strap, depending on your preference) to complete your kavanah collection (see above).

My Jewish journey has been unconventional, to say the least. But at each fork in the road where I grappled with my purpose and belonging, I found myself coming back to the root values that define Judaism. Our community emphasizes learning and introspection, giving us the means to sustain personal responsibility to repair the world in whatever small way we can, even if it happens to be controversial.

The academic rigor of the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary will challenge me and give me the opportunity to grow when delving into the foundations of Judaism as well as the rigorous curriculum of an Ivy League institution. It is my goal, when at the program, to push myself to work towards my own greater goal: to be part of the process of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Thank you for supporting me on this journey, and I look forward to this endeavor as we set our sights on finding our kavanah each and every day.


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