Senior Reflections from our 2019 Graduates! Mazel tov!
Over my past 11 years at Temple Emanu-El, I have had experiences that will carry me through my entire life. From sitting in the Temple sanctuary talking about Jewish values, to learning prayers in the classroom, to lobbying to our congressional leaders, our shared experiences are diverse and far-reaching which, fostering new relationships and memories that I will carry with me. I would like to thank the Temple and the community for all they have done.
Since the first time I came here in third grade, Temple Emanu-El has been much more than just a temple to me. From learning Hebrew to my Torah portion, from visiting Camp Harlam to New Orleans, this wonderful place has provided me with life-changing experiences. My classmates, rabbis, and cantors have become more than my friends, they have become people I can go to in times of need. They have become family, and I am grateful for them all. Without these amazing people and the Temple, I would not be the person I am today.
My time at the Temple has been one that I will forever hold close to my heart. In the classroom, I have learned about patience, tolerance, and the importance of leading by example. In the chapel I learned music from Barry, and I ultimately became a Bat Mitzvah there with him by my side. I learned, also, in the chapel how powerful it is to declare your faith in front of a room full of people — friends, family, and community members — who love you and wish the best for you. In Griefer-Sacks I have learned about the importance of pizza when attempting to get 7th graders to learn on a Tuesday night, and I also have learned about the experiences of Jewish people who come from around the world. On stageside I learned about the proper techniques of coloring in a wooden dreidel, and how passionate 3rd graders get when posed with a Jewish trivia game. In the parking lot, I won a gold fish during Purim and I learned never to take home a new pet without asking your parents first. In the Main Sanctuary I have learned about faith in something higher than oneself, faith in those around you, and that there is always hope. I have heard the shofar call, I have heard sermons by multiple Rabbis, I have heard the beautiful melodies of the Cantors, but there is nothing to inspire hope more than the sound of the children singing about strength like a mountain, peace like a river, and love like a rainbow. My time at the Temple has been incredible and has undoubtedly changed me as a member of the world community.
Temple Emanu-El, thanks for all the memories. During my time here I made so many great friendships and connections. From my early days of struggling to learn Hebrew to lobbying in DC with my closest friends, it has really been a worthwhile experience. I was also introduced to the youth group TEWTY which lead me to NFTY, something that has been a huge part of my life. You have given me so much and I am so grateful for it.
Thanks for everything.
Shout out to Rabbi Josh and Rabbi Smiley.
This Temple has taught me that the Jewish religion has no boundaries, and will accept anyone and everyone. I appreciate and cherish that I have always felt accepted at Temple Emanu-El and I hope to pass down this appreciation to my children one day. I also believe the temple has helped me grow into the person I am today, and I am extremely thankful for the moral and generous lifestyle it has inspired me to live. Thank you to the staff here at Temple Emanu-El for being so personable and passionate, you are all deserving of our gratitude. Finally, thank you for taking me in and making me feel like I always have a second family to go to.
I have had a wonderful 12 years at Temple Emanu-El. Beginning in first grade, I started to attend Religious School on Sundays, where I met amazing teachers and friends that I would keep for the rest of my time in Westfield. The preparation I received for my Bar Mitzvah as part of the Religious School was very important to me, as I felt as though I was the most prepared I could have been for my big day. After my Bar Mitzvah, I started working as a Madrich on Sundays, helping in both Hebrew and Judaics. These years helped strengthen my personal skills as well as helping me make a difference in my community. The experiences and memories I have had here will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I have been going to this Temple for nearly my entire life, and I’m very grateful for that. This Temple goes above and beyond for its faculty and its students, so much that from when I walked in here on my first day of preschool and every Sunday morning I come in to teach for the madrichim program, I have a smile on my face. I have had the privilege to work in the Madrichim program and look after the boys in the Ma’ayan class for a little over two years and it has shaped a lot of what I have learned right here in this Temple. I come into the sanctuary on Sundays to see the 4th and 5th graders contribute in tefilah, and every time I see one of the boys look back to me and give me a big wave and they’re smiling ear to ear. I have had an extraordinary connection with the children I have worked with and I wouldn’t ask for anything more. This made me realize why I enjoyed my 10 years here as a student so much. I finally understood how passionate my teachers were and how much they cared for the children they looked after when I was a kid here. This is because it’s just how I felt to become a teacher here. The relationships I have made in this Temple have had a great impact on the person I am today, teaching me what it means to be a friend, to be caring, to be confident, and to be a leader. That is why I am forever grateful to call this place my home.
Being a part of Temple over the last 10 years has created a space for me to be myself and feel comfortable with my Judaism. Temple wasn’t always my favorite place, I didn’t love all of my Hebrew school teachers but I’ve never felt more comfortable in a place. Being able to recreate my experience for others was something that drew me to being a Gesher Leader because of the memories I got to relive. I will forever be thankful for the community at Temple Emanu-El.
Temple Emanu-El has given me so much over the past several years. I have met some of my closest friends and found a very unique Jewish community. I have been lucky enough to be welcomed by the youth group, TEWTY, and to also find a place in NFTY-GER. No matter where I end up in my future, I will always thank Temple Emanu-El for being the place where I learned what it meant to be Jewish and how important it is to who I am.
Shout out to Rabbi Josh, Rabbi Smiley and Eliana.
I can’t believe that I stand here today after being part of this Temple community for over ten years. Throughout my ten years here, I have found my second home. I always joke that if I were ever to get kicked out, the first place I would run would be the Temple. I also have been able to maintain a friendship with my best friend of now thirteen plus years through spending lots of time together at Hebrew School. This Temple has taught me so much over the years. I would like to thank a few people: my momma buggy Jackie Hernandez, Mr. Mike who always manages to put a smile on my face, Cantor Novick who is always there to listen, Rabbi Sagal who remains calm even when I may not be, and Abra Lee who has accepted me and my raw onion allergy. As we go on our way I know I will always have a home here at Temple Emanu-El. My years here will be cherished with memories of amazing programs, being a madricha, hours of learning in Hebrew School, being a member of TEWTY and sitting with Rabbi Sagal at Cafe Torah. Thank you Temple Emanu-El from the bottom of my heart. I want to wish Shari and Emily the best on their next adventure and I hope we all find ourselves on an amazing journey.
Before 7th grade at Temple Emanu-El, I had never received a Jewish education in my life. My parents had never been raised in a religious home, so Jewish values were unfortunately never passed on to me. I wanted to take my Jewish future in my own hands and convinced my parents to take me to Temple Emanu-El. My first impression of Temple Emanu-El was meeting with Rabbi Sagal. His warm, welcoming smile made me feel like I had been attending this Temple my entire life. The minute I found out we shared a birthday, I knew this place was meant to be. Temple Emanu-El encouraged to become a Bat Mitzvah, and helped me to do so. Without their support, l would have never achieved my dream of reading from the Torah. My years here have only grown since that day, and I have made friends that I know I will have for a long time after. Thank you Temple Emanu-El for everything you have offered me, and for showing me what that Judaism really means.
Over the past 15 years, I have had the best experiences at Temple Emanu-El. From nursery school to Religious School to standing on the bima at my Bat Mitzvah, to being a madricha and a TEWTY board member, and standing here today. I have learned that there is something truly special about this place. All of the clergy, staff, other madrichim, and students have made my years here the best and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. This place is my home, spending most of my week here every week and the occasional weekend for a shul-in. I will never forget all of the memories I have made here, at Camp Harlam, or in Houston and I will never forget all of you. I thank all of you, especially Abra, Shari, and Emily who have been great mentors and who have taught me so much. Next year, I plan to continue my Jewish studies and being part of Hillel at the University of Delaware! Best of luck to all the seniors!
When I first came to Temple Emanu-El, I wasn’t even born. My family has been a part of the community for as long as I can remember and more. Lucky for me, when I was born, I was welcomed with opened arms as they were. From my baby naming to my bat mitzvah to my confirmation, I was guided with a kind and steady hand. As I exit high school I’m beginning to realize exactly how lucky I am to be born into a supportive atmosphere with a strong sense of identity. Beyond being a great cultural commonplace throughout my life, Temple Emanu-El has introduced me to leadership opportunities my friends could only dream of. I was also introduced to NFTY and Camp Harlam, each of which have given me some of the best, most loyal friends I’ve ever met. I can’t even begin to think of how thankful I am for everything Temple Emanu-El and the wonderful people there have provided for me, and I hope one day, I can give that back in some small part.
Working as a Madricha has been a very big part of my life. And with that, the staff and students here have also become a big part of my life. Throughout my four years, I have had the opportunity to work with so many different students and have gotten to know them well. Each year I come back excited to see how the students progressed. The kids always add laughter to the room and keep the days from being anything but dull. Being part of the staff has also been so rewarding. It’s great being part of the team. Everyone has always been so supportive. I have had the best four years working here and will miss my time spent here.
Temple Emanu-El has given me so much. It has given me my mentors, my best friends, and my moral education. Even though I did not go to Shabbat services (sorry) I feel that this place has helped me to discover my Jewish and spiritual identity. The madrichim program has helped me to become a leader and Tuesday night school and Confirmation has helped me to realize what I believe. Because of this place, I have become the person I am today. I will never forget all of my memories here and I will always have this place as my foundation.
Rest In Peace Morah Dora.
Shout out to Rabbi Josh and Rabbi Smiley
After being a member of this Temple for 18 years and a Religious Student for 13, I have found that Temple Emanu-El is a place of openness, comfort, friends, family and a second home. Despite having to be dragged to Hebrew when I was younger, I came to a point in my life when I realized how much I truly cherish and appreciate coming and learning about my religion while also making friends, both with students and teachers, that will last a lifetime.
When I think of Temple Emanu-El I think of community. The people I’ve met here and memories I’ve made I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I think of what it means to be Jewish at Temple Emanu-El I think it means to be an active community member. From my friends, to clergy, and staff, and youth group, these are people who have taught me so much and have given me a place to step up and be a leader in the community. As I go off to college in a few months, I’m excited to make new experiences on campus but will certainly miss the Temple community. I look forward to returning on the High Holidays and visiting with everyone.