Please see our senior reflections from the class of 2018.
When I joined Temple Emanu-El in 9th grade, I was immediately brought in with open arms and warm hearts. For as long as I can remember, Temple Emanu-El has been my family, and TEWTY has become something that I care so deeply about. I have learned how to be a leader and learned to embrace my Jewish identity. My fellow board members and peers have grown to be my family, close friends, and people I can always turn to. My friends, Rabbis, clergy members and the entire temple community have left a strong impact on my Jewish life and I will always take these memories and lessons with me. Without the temple community, I would not have been able to travel and study abroad in Israel, which was the most life-changing experience for me, and I would not be the leader I am today. Although I may be saying goodbye to Temple Emanu-El at the end of this year, it isn’t forever. It’s not goodbye for any of us. It’s just a see you later.
In 5th grade, I moved from Massachusetts to Westfield and joined Temple Emanu-El’s religious school. Through seven years at Temple Emanu-El, I have made some of my closest friends, and I have remained close with them through different high schools and will continue to be close with them through different colleges. Temple Emanu-El has educated me, allowed me to educate others through the Madrichim program, and will continue to allow me to learn and grow through a Jewish perspective in my future endeavors. I am absolutely and unquestionably grateful for the friendships, experiences, and knowledge that my seemingly short seven years at Temple Emanu-El has gifted me.
I am so grateful for the opportunities that the temple has provided for me. The friends that I have made here have become family and the adventures we have been on together have created memories that will last me a lifetime. Tuesday nights are my favorite part of the week and I am going to miss this time we spend together more than anything. Good luck to everyone in the next chapter of your lives. I can’t wait to see the amazing things that’s I know we can accomplish.
Temple Emanu-El has been a constant in my life since I was little. It was here that I learned to question my beliefs and explore every side of an argument. Also, I have made many friends here who make my life more full and challenge me to be a better person. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that have been provided to me through this temple and will cherish my memories here forever.
“Wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish. You’re never alone when you say you’re a Jew.” These are lyrics from a song I sing with the third graders here every Sunday morning. It’s hard for me to believe that I was once in their shoes – learning the Hebrew alphabet and preparing for my Bat Mitzvah.
It’s also hard for me to believe that next year I won’t be coming to school every Tuesday night or working here every Sunday morning. Temple Emanu-El has become the site of many of my happiest memories. It’s been more than just the place where I became a bat mitzvah or where I go to pray, it’s been a community – a family – a place where I’ve made many of my best friends. When I think about college, I get really excited – new opportunities, new friends, new experiences – but when I think about leaving my Jewish family, I get really sad. Next year, all of us will be in different places. But if Temple Emanu-El has taught me one thing, it’s that a Jewish bond is enough to keep people connected for a lifetime. I look forward to participating in Hillel next year and meeting Jews from all around the world. To finish as I started, “so when you’re not home and you’re feeling kind of newish, odds are don’t look far ‘cuz they’re Jewish too.”
Growing up I hated Religious School. But, as I grew older, I continued to go not because I was forced to, but because I wanted to, so I could see my friends. Thank you Temple Emanu-El for bringing me such a great group of friends and for teaching me lessons and giving me memories that will last a life time.
Nine years ago, as a third grader, I did not think I would be standing here right now. My mom always forced me to come to religious school and I hated it, honestly. Now, I am so glad that I continued all of those years. I have made friends that I will have for a lifetime and I will forever be grateful. We are so close, that when religious school ended last year, every Tuesday night we would still go out for dinner throughout the entire summer. Every year, I have looked forward to going on the trips to DC, Houston, New Orleans, and Boston just to name a few. I will miss this so much and the community that I have become a part of at temple Emanu-El!
Sixteen years ago I began pre-school at Temple Emanu-El. 12 years ago I began Religious School. Over the years, I have gained so many valuable experiences and met some of my best friends. From dancing to and singing Twinkle Twinkle with Jordan, listening to Gianna yell at Allison and I for being selfish in Boston, hanging out with everyone in New Orleans, or even just going out to dinner on Tuesday nights, I can always count on having fun with this group of people. We have truly grown up together, and I know that even though we will not see each other every week, we will always have our Jewish connection. Temple Emanu-El also introduced me to Camp Harlam, which is a huge part of where I discovered my Jewish identity. I will now be going there for my eighth summer and could not be happier. I cannot imagine my life without the Temple or anything that I have learned from it. In the upcoming years, I plan on continuing my Jewish education and expanding upon the many experiences and friendships that Temple Emanu-El has given me.
For more than ten years I have always looked forward to coming to Temple every week. As this new journey begins in my life, I wish the best to my second family, my Jew friends, who I have made at Temple. The memories we have shared are unforgettable especially on the community service trips to New Orleans and Houston and I have cherished everything the Temple has offered me.
Since the beginning of my childhood, the temple has always been central to my life. In many ways, I feel like I grew up in the temple. I attended the preschool, am the son of a former TEE rabbi and live just two doors away. Throughout the years, I have attended many temple events, watched the building expand and built important relationships with a variety of fellow congregants. Likewise, the temple has also given me many opportunities for which I am grateful. These include access to meaningful volunteer programs, grants to visit to Israel, a comprehensive bar mitzvah and confirmation education and so much more. Above all, however, I am most thankful for the opportunity I was given to become a madrich at the religious school. In the five years I worked as a madrich, I was inspired and tested by the next generation of our Jewish community. For me, being a madrich is much more than just a job. Rather, it is an opportunity to impress on younger kids why Judaism should matter to them and why it is worth taking the time to learn about our tradition. Some of the best conversations I have had about Judaism have been with my students, who force me to think about my Judaism differently. These experiences have helped me construct my own opinion on Jewish values, while making me a stronger educator as well. I know these skills will guide me and make me a more engaged member of the greater Jewish community.