Mazal tov to our Senior Class of 2020/5780!
We asked our seniors to look back on their experience over the years at Temple Emanu-El. Please read on for their senior reflections.
One of my favorite memories throughout my years at the temple was our Confirmation Trip. We had the opportunity to attend a 4-day seminar at the Religious Action Center in Washington DC. Throughout the year, with my class, I attended seminars, discussions, and simulations to dive deeper into the social justice issues that are important to me – like equal rights, reproductive health, mental health and common-sense gun laws. I learned ways that teenagers can lead the conversation, before they can even vote. We had discussions about abortion laws and held mock rallies for common-sense gun laws to understand both sides of the debate.
The seminar culminated with me lobbying for reproductive rights. After returning home from this trip, our temple received a call from the office of Congressman Leonard Lance, explaining how impressed his staff was with our speeches and that he personally wanted to visit our temple and debate with us. The next week, we sat side by side cordially speaking about abortion laws. Although he and I have opposing political views on many issues and associate with different parties, being able to be taken seriously as a 16-year-old by someone with so much power was incredible. This experience allowed me to truly realize how valuable my voice is and how to properly use it.
I remember going to Temple for the first time in 1st grade for religious school. I learned at temple to embrace my Jewish identity and a sense of community. When I started the madrichim program in 8th grade I was unaware of the journey it would lead me on. Special shoutout to Morah Janet for teaching by my side for four years. Thank you for everything you taught me.
I grew up in temple emanuel and I loved every moment of it. It was my second home and I felt very welcomed at all times.
My time at temple Emanuel has truly taught me a sense of a tight community. Truly entering into the community in the third grade, I found myself initially a shy kid. Over the years, I became more confident in myself and my image as I made lasting friendships. Many of those friendships and mentor ships I gained have stuck through until today, and I am thankful for the Temple Emanuel community to have given me the opportunity to emerge as a self-confident social individual after a childhood of being introverted.
I have learned a lot throughout my time at Temple Emanu-El. From teaching fifth graders prayers on Sunday mornings as a Madricha to leading Gesher L’Kesher discussions on Tuesday nights, I have learned how to become an effective leader. From lobbying Leonard Lance on a gun violence prevention bill to saying my “I Believe” statement at my confirmation, I have learned to voice my opinion and stand up for what I believe in. From fixing a garden and packaging food at Second Harvest Food Bank on the NOLA Mission Trip to cleaning up Lenape Park and handing out soup on a cold morning with Mitzvah Corps, I have learned the importance of helping others. From trips to Camp Harlam to crazy stories told by Morah Dora, I have learned how to bond with people of all different ages to form strong relationships and friendships. Despite heading to Pittsburgh next year, I know I will always have my Temple Emanu-El community, and I will carry all of the lessons I have learned here with me for life.
When I moved back to New Jersey, I was not sure that I wanted to attend Hebrew school. I had already had by Bar Mitzvah, but I decided to attend to see if I could find a new community. Temple Emanu-El provided me with a community of people that came to hebrew school looking to learn like I was. I made many lifelong friends, found my favorite job I’ve ever had and felt a new connection to my Jewish community that I will take forward will treasure moving forward in my life. The trip to DC convinced me that I wanted to work in a field where I could be an activist. The temple provided an opportunity to tour Tulane for the first time, and because of that trip, I knew it was the place for me. Thank you to all of the staff at Temple Emanu-El for allowing me to find my jewish identity.
Temple Emanu-El has been an integral part of my life since I was named on this bimah almost 19 years ago. I began Me and My Shadow classes at 18 months and have continued my Jewish education straight through Cafe Torah today. While experiences like lobbying in DC and repairing New Orleans are unforgettable and meaningful, I will truly cherish the friendships and community I have built here. Growing up with my Jewish peers has created a bond that I know will remain strong as we move into this next chapter of our lives. I am incredibly grateful to all of my teachers and clergy for instilling in me the love of Judaism I will carry with me through life.
The thing I am going to miss most about Temple Emanu-El is the amazing community of friends and family I have made. I will miss every student I have had the opportunity to work with and every friend I have made along the way. This temple has given me a community of friends bonded like no other I have ever known. I know they will always be here for me and I am so grateful to have had this amazing Jewish community as a part of my life and will definitely continue to be involved as I move forward into college. The people I have met here are people that I know will always be a part of my life.
Temple Emanu-El has been crucial to my life and development from childhood to adulthood. The moral lessons I have learned from religious school, confirmation, cafe torah, and working as a Madrich will most certaintly stick with me for the rest of my life. Even more importantly, the people that I have met through the Temple Emanu-El community will be close friends for life. A group of friends I first met when I was 3 years old at the Temple are still some of my closest friends right now. Some of my favorite memories include the exciting trips to Boston, Washington D.C., and New Orleans that I went on with my peers, as well as the entire year of Confirmation learning and my Bar Mitzvah. Fighting for change in our nations capitol, assisting locals still devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and reading prayers on the Bema are all unforgettable experiences that would not have been possible without Temple Emanu-El. I would like to thank all of the Temple Emanu-El clergy, religious school teachers, and staff for making my time with the congregation special and impactful. I would especially like to thank Abra, Cantor Novick, Cantor Rubel, Rabbi Prosnit, Mike, and Rabbi Sagal for the impact they have made on my life.
I had a lot of fun working with morah rina the last 4 years and getting experience my first year with morah dora. T’fillah was always a great way to start off the morning and it was always nice to create a bond with the kids.
I have grown up at Temple Emanu-El, and the Temple community has helped to forge me into the person that I am today. From preschool, to dancing at Shabbat Hallelu, to singing and learning at Camp Harlem, to making connections with kids as a Madricha, the Temple community has provided a strong, safe place for my friends, family, and me. Confirmation and Fun Club have challenged me to speak up and help my community . The lessons and the friends that I’ve made and learned at Temple will be with me through every part of my life.
Although I joined the Temple Emanu-El community a bit late, I am so glad I did join. Everyone I have met was inviting and and friendly to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the programming TEE had to offer. I created memories with friends whether it was on the several mission trips I was a part of or on a regular weeknight session. It was great to have such a strong Jewish community within Westfield. I am looking forward to returning to temple for holidays and any other time I am in town. I have gained so much through my experience with TEE and for that I am forever grateful.
Temple Emanu-El will always be a part of me. It has taught me important lessons, influenced my values, gave me experiences I will cherish forever, and taught me the importance of community. I have met friends, inspired students, and have become a Jewish woman through the temple. The temple has shaped me into who I am today, and I am so thankful to the clergy, staff, and the friends who taught me so much. I will carry all that I have learned with me for the rest of my life.
My whole life at Temple Emanu-El has been surrounded by community. Whether it be going to religious school, doing community service, attending services or being a Madrich, the temple has taught me the power of community and why it is so important, especially in times like these. The Temple has been a community that has had my back since I first walked through the doors in first grade and has been there for me every step of the way. As I head off to college, I go knowing that my temple community will always support me and that the doors will be open for me when I get home. I want to thank the clergy, all my teachers, Abra and Mike for everything they do. Thank you.
I have grown up at Temple Emanu-El, and I’m so thankful to have this community in my life. From preschool to religious school trips to Camp Harlam to Friday Night services to Bat Mitzvahs to lobbying in Washington DC to Cafe Torah, some of my best memories and my best friends have been made here. I feel so lucky to have had all of these incredible experiences, and I know I’ll take the knowledge, wisdom, and friendships that I’ve gained on to my next chapter in college.
A large part of my identity has always been my judaism. I have grown up in the temple and have made some of my closest friends through it. I have met people who have become the most important people in my life. I have created bonds with the cantors, rabbi’s, and staff that make the temple feel like my second home. It has always been a place where I have felt familiar and surrounded by people who have known and accepted me my whole life. Some of my best memories from Temple Emanu-El are the camp Harlem retreats, singing with Barry, and my confirmation year. I love how the temple allows me and my classmates explore a jewish identity that is unique to us and ties to our roots while simultaneously helping us build our future identity.
For 16 years I have been a part of the Temple Emanu-El community, and I am only 18 years old so once you do the math, you can see that I have been a part of this community for 89% of my life; I grew up here. Over my years in this community I have seen the Temple change, I have met new people, and I have seen the people around me grow and become the incredible graduating class that they are today. However, the one thing that has been constant at the Temple is the feeling you get when you walk through the doors. From the time I was 2 until now, everytime I walk into the Temple I am always greeted with a smile, a “Shabbat Shalom”, or “How are you?” and I always feel welcome and loved. Next year, I will be attending James Madison University where I hope to join the Hillel so I can continue my Jewish journey. In addition, I would love to be able to go on Birthright one day. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my Jewish identity, and I will be sure to come back next year to visit!
When I look back on my years at Temple Emanu-El, the first thing I think of is community. I am so lucky to have found a place where I can bond with students and staff alike, where the director of the religious school is the mother of one of my first friends at summer camp, where I get to work with the teachers who taught me my prayers all those years ago. The only thing I can say in response is: thank you. Thank you to the faculty, to the clergy, to the volunteers, and to everyone who inspired me to take pride in my Jewish identity.
Temple Emanu-El has given me some of the greatest opportunities, experiences, and friendships of my life. Whether it’s learning a new song with my students as a Madricha, dancing with my friends during services, or traveling to DC, there is never a dull moment. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of such an amazing community and I can’t wait to see all the paths we’ll take!