To My Jewish Day School Education

To My Jewish Day School Education

Thank you for giving me bagels every Friday, a lack of school in the months of September and October, and an appreciation for my religion, culture, and life.
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For 18 years, from the earliest days of “mommy & me” all the way up until high school graduation, I attended a small, Jewish day school in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD. Contained within a seemingly un-poppable bubble, I spent long days, specifically from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., learning about Jewish holidays, hearing stories from the Bible, and studying the many laws that constitute Jewish life. All of this, on top of taking math, english, social studies, and science classes.

At times I longed to switch to a regular school, one where I could be dismissed from school at 2:30. Every. Single. Day. And one where I wouldn’t have to endure these classes that seemed so trivial at the time. But my parents would not even dream of letting me weasel my way out of what they believed to be an important experience. So I continued my Jewish day school education, and looking back on it, I realize just how right they were.

Sitting in my dorm room, 1,123 miles away from home, in a new school and a new city, I just want to say to my Jewish Day School:

Thank you for showing me what it means to be a community.

During times of happiness, from special Jewish holidays to winning the annual basketball tournament and everything in between, we always united to celebrate as a school. On the opposite end, in times of sorrow, whether it be the death of a family member or that of a soldier in Israel, we always joined together to pray for comfort, peace, and health in the world. Looking back, I appreciate these moments for what they were, and know that I will always be a part of a special community.

Thank you for fostering my love of Judaism and Israel.

Throughout my years, you taught me some essential components of what it means to be a Jew: that I should care for others, strive to be the best version of myself, and live each day with meaning and purpose. You also gave me Israel, a beautiful country filled with incredible people, a rich history and culture, and an everlasting spirit. These ideas are now ingrained into my being; without them, I would not be who I am today.

Thank you for teaching me that winning isn't everything.

The sports at my school could be classified as anything but serious. In the entire span of my athletic career, I witnessed only two occasions where players were cut. 99.9% of the time, everyone made the team, and everyone was given an equal chance to learn, grow, and succeed. Although this system stands in stark contrast to how typical athletic organizations function, for my school, it worked. We learned to value hard work, camaraderie, and having fun. Winning was rare, but this taught us to appreciate even the smallest of victories.

Lastly, thank you for preparing me for college.

You might be thinking, how could I have been prepared for college by living in a bubble for my entire life? Yes, it is true that my life predominantly existed in this Jewish bubble, and that my friend group consisted mainly of people just like me. But my Jewish Day School education equipped me with the necessary tools to succeed not only in college, but in life. Tools that I don’t think I would have received anywhere else. From it, I’ve learned to treat people the way that you want to be treated. I’ve learned to believe that everything happens for a reason, and to trust that things will be okay in the end. And lastly, I’ve learned that each day we have on this earth is a gift, and that we should not merely sit back and appreciate it, but take advantage of each moment to ultimately live a meaningful life.

So thanks again, for the bagels, for the 8 hour school days, and for the lessons.


Cover Image Credit: Beth Tfiloh School

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Intimidation Isn't Always What It Seems

Always ask yourself this question when feeling intimidated...

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A few months ago, I read something online that really stuck with me. I don't remember who said it, or where it came from, so my apologies for not accurately crediting the genius who spoke these words, but it said this:

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Growing up, you constantly find yourself in situations where you feel scared or uncomfortable. I don't think there's one person on the planet that can say that they didn't feel intimidated at one point or another growing up. Maybe it was by the "popular kids" or by a teacher or a supervisor. So many people can make you feel a certain way and it can be scary when you're a child growing up. Maybe you felt intimidated because they were bullies or they were a strong personality.

But after reading this quote, I started to think about every time in my life that I felt intimidated. Walking into a new job, taking a chance on writing, seeing a group of girls in the cafeteria - whatever it was, I thought of it. And my perspective completely changed.

It wasn't necessarily that the people who I was encountering or the situation I was entering was scary. In fact, most times, those people turned out to be incredibly welcoming and nice, or that situation was nothing but spectacular, but at that moment, I was completely intimidated. It was something new and the unknown can always be scary. But looking back, it wasn't that those situations and people were intimidating - it was that I was intimidated.

Being intimidated is completely natural. It'd be crazy to say 'hey, don't be intimidated' and expect people to actually feel comfortable. But it's something to think about moving forward when you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or even scared. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and let that timidness get the best of you but think of that question and realize that it's not necessarily the situation - sometimes it's you letting the situation get the best of you.

At the end of the day, people are just people. Everyone has boogers and everyone had good and bad days and to be honest, the people who others find intimidating are usually the ones who are just better at putting up a front. They're the ones who find having a hard exterior is easier than being vulnerable and letting others in. Don't let those people scare you. They're usually fighting a battle that they're taking out on the people around them - and that shouldn't scare you.

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Think about it, feel it, let it wash over you, and don't let those feelings get the best of you. Most of the best things in life are just past that line outside of your comfort zone.

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