From TBA President Laura EJ Rose

In their recent contribution to the Gleanings, an ejournal of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish
Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeffrey S. Kress’ and Dr. Jon A. Levisohn’s article, “The New Purpose of Jewish Education,” struck a chord for me. Kress and Levisohn describe a desire for students to find relevance and meaning in Jewish tradition “as it plays out outside of the classroom. We want them to make Jewish friends and find a sense of belonging in Judaism; to experience Jewish pride; to see how Judaism can inform important decisions, deepen moments of emotion, and provide support during challenging times; to feel a sense of responsibility for others and tikkun olam; to come to see themselves within the flow of Jewish history; and to be prepared for ‘citizenship’ within the current and emerging Jewish community.”

Their description of goals for Jewish education echo my aspirations for my own two sons, and confirmed for me what I had just experienced at our Machane TBAHigh Graduation Shabbat Service. I am enormously proud of the dedication of our religious school, our educators, and our clergy as they engage our children in Jewish educational experiences that will enable them to thrive in today’s complex world. And I was honored to be able to hear, in their own words, why our graduates hold TBA close to their hearts. Nine of twelve graduates stepped to the bima over the course of the service to share personal remarks with the congregation. What an amazing group of young adults! As they finish high school and move out into the wide world beyond their home here at Temple Beth Ami, I am proud to share our TBAHigh 2017 Graduate “Why I Stayed” statements.

Yasher Koach, Graduates!

Carly Steinberg

I am Carly Steinberg and next year I am going to the University of Maryland. I decided to stay at Temple Beth Ami after confirmation because of the incredible friends I have made. Also, the amazing leadership opportunities kept me coming back. I am so excited for the next chapter of my life and to continue making memories with the friends I have made here.

Megan Cohen

I’m Megan Cohen and next year I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh with an undecided major. I joined TBAHigh this year because I hoped to strengthen my roots with my Jewish community. It is a community I only really came to appreciate over the past few years, thanks to the time I was able to spend with Rabbi Luxemburg. By joining TBAHigh, I was able to find the community I was looking for.

Zoe Katon

I am Zoe Katon and this fall I will be attending Radford University and majoring in elementary education and deaf and hard of hearing studies. I stayed at Hebrew school because when I was in 5th grade I was the only girl in my class and I still loved it. Now I keep coming back to be with some of my best friends.

Adam Goodman

My name is Adam Goodman and I plan on attending Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall, majoring in illustration. I stayed at TBAHigh because my mom wanted me to have some form of Jewish outlet my senior year and my friends from preschool stayed as well. I learned a lot about the Jewish faith and gained a strong sense of community from the Temple.

David Shapero

I’m David Shapero and I will be attending West Virginia University, studying sport and exercise psychology. I stayed at TBAHigh for my friends, to learn and be further invested in this great community. I don’t know what makes this place feel like home, but it’s home.

Bradley Gritz

My name is Bradley Gritz and next year I will be attending Virginia Tech as an engineering major. I stayed at TBAHigh not only to continue my Jewish education but to cherish the many friendships I have formed for a lifetime to come.

Amy Berger

My name is Amy Berger and I will be attending Tufts University as a Biopsychology major. I stayed in Hebrew School to learn more about Jewish culture. From cooking falafels on Tuesday nights to singing Jewish songs around a bonfire, Beth Ami made learning really fun. I also stayed for the trips; we travelled to New York City, to Philly, and even to the Deep South. I learned how Jewish communities around the world could be so different yet so similar, and made lots of great memories with all my friends. I stayed for these friendships and all the fun times that came with them. 

Melanie Ezrin

I’m Melanie Ezrin. This fall I’ll be attending the University of Delaware as a public policy major. I originally stayed at TBAHigh because my best friend, Zoe, and Shira Zemel hassled me all summer to stay, so I did. I quickly realized I had found my best friends and a fun, welcoming environment to continue my Jewish education. Now I stay because I didn’t just find my best friends, I found a family.

Joshua Friedman

My name is Joshua Friedman. This coming year I will be attending Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. I am interested in majoring in Psychology and Business with a minor in Communications. It’s a small school. With 2,600 students, Franklin and Marshall makes for a very tight-knit community. I think that is why I stayed. I have been going to TBA for more than 15 years. Every year, I came back without question. Over the years, my class sizes have grown smaller. Many of my friends from school have left for other pursuits, but I remain. As many of the friends from my school left, I noticed that a new friend group was taking shape. Almost all of my fellow graduates have been with me since the first day 17 years ago. They are a new group of friends, one that I can always count on. I would have never gone on the Southern Civil Rights Trip with my friends from my high school. The dynamic we share would not make the trip as impactful. Every time I come to TBA, I do so knowing that I will arrive and immediately feel welcome. Some time ago, I stood here with my Confirmation Class and spoke about why I am a Jew. Now, it’s why I stayed. I stayed not because I am a Jew, but because by staying, the friends I have made have helped me develop my Jewish identity. That is something that I am all the greater for. Thank you.