Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seventh Graders: What Being A Jew Means to Me

-Essays from our Seventh Graders-

Alexa Baer
The reason why I love being Jewish is because of the importance of community. I really want to congratulate all of my class. I love you all and I cherish the Jew Crew memories, all of the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and all of our stories at story time. Thank you all for these memories. Mazel Tov today and every other Jew Crew day!

Sarah Druckman
I have had so many great memories with all of you, from rocking out at Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties to the mock wedding. I especially like our Thursday chit-chats. We are all different so I love hearing everyone’s stories. Everyone is so supportive. We have become so close this year and I hope that we will continue to see each other in the future.

Being Jewish means so much more than just learning Hebrew. I have learned so much about my history. I studied my Jewish background and learned about my parents’ wedding, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in my family, and my family history. It has opened my eyes to so many things, from marriage to death. I am aware of so many more things. This year has been amazing!

Noah Durica
What do I like about being Jewish? Well, I like the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, holidays, and the Purim Carnival that happens once a year. I also like throwing candy at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student. But most of all, I like the fantastic history that the Jews have.

It all started out with the creation of the universe. G-D created everything organic on earth in a week. G-D created two people called Adam and Eve, but they got tricked by the snake and disobeyed G-D and ate from the tree of knowledge. G-D got angry and banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and He punished the snake by cutting off his legs. So that’s why the snake slithers.

What I was more curious about is the story of Noah’s Ark, and not because the protagonist has my name. Noah brought two of every animal onto the ark, but what about the fish and other aquatic creatures? Did he fish them out and put them into little jars? In fact, they would be fine anyway because they have gills and need water to breathe.

However, my all-time favorite is Chanukah. Chanukah is about the miracle of light. More specifically, the Maccabees only had enough oil to keep the eternal light going for one day. Surprisingly, it lasted for an entire week and they got a brand new shipment of oil for the lamp. I like the Maccabees because they are rebel soldiers who fought for religious reasons and I think that is really neat.

Those are some of the exciting parts of history that make Jews who they are. More people like Moses, Samuel, and Jacob helped Jews in one way or another. These stories inspire me to be who I am today.

Lucas Ehrlich
Wow! I can’t believe that seven years have gone by since I started Hebrew School. Learning from all of the five different teachers was great. But making these friends was great too. This year we all connected and now we’re great friends.

I really liked learning about the Holocaust. Many had painful experiences or were killed, but it was so good to see how the Jewish people survived. I can’t imagine going through that.

Hebrew School was really fun. I can’t believe it’s over. I am going to miss it.

Ethan Finkelstein
I can’t believe that Hebrew School is almost over. The seven years have gone by so fast. There were many great times, but my favorite has to be seventh grade. Hebrew School has been so much fun this year and we have had the best teachers. My favorite subject in Hebrew School has to be the Holocaust. It is a very interesting and very important subject, because many people were killed and it changed Jewish history.

I enjoyed the m&m’s we got this year. But my favorite part of the year was my Bar Mitzvah. It was such a great day. My whole family was there and afterwards there was an awesome party. It was also a very important day as I became a man.

Zoe Finkelstein
I love being Jewish for lots of reasons, one being Hebrew School. I have met so many awesome people over the years. After all the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Hebrew School classes, and class events we have all grown so close. I want to thank everyone for being such amazing friends. I love you guys!

I remember Kindergarten with Mrs. Bailer. We were all so small! From the beginning, I knew we would all be great friends. In first grade we had Darren who rocks and we were lucky enough to have him for fourth and seventh grades too. He has taught us so much, so thanks Darren! In fifth grade we met Rachel the squirrel. In sixth grade Mrs. Elkies started our Bar/Bat Mitzvah prep, which helped me a lot. That brings us to this year which has been so memorable and awesome. Mrs. Hammerman and Darren, thanks for everything you’ve taught us. This has been the best year by far. We have all grown so close and I hope we stay that way. Vanilla Ice!!!

Jacob Goldberg
This has been my eighth year at Hebrew School and it has been a blast. I have made many great friends along the years and have had many memorable moments. Our teachers have always been great, like Darren who we have now had for three different years. Some of my favorite events from Hebrew School were the Shabbatons where we would stay somewhere for the night and sing Jewish songs and just have a good time. I remember on our last Shabbaton we all stayed in log cabins where we would play games and stay up all night.

To me being Jewish is awesome. To be Jewish is very special. I love being Jewish because it is such a unique religion and has many fun holidays to celebrate. One of my favorite holidays is Passover because I like matzah, especially chocolate-covered matzah, and I eat lots and lots of matzah ball soup. Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays because I get to see all of my family and receive lots of presents. Even though presents are great I know the real meaning of Hanukkah is that it was a miracle because the eternal light burned for eight nights instead of one.

In conclusion, Hebrew School is so fun and I am glad that I have been going here for seven years. I will be excited to come back for Kulanu. This year has been hard because I have been practicing for my Bar Mitzvah, but I still love coming every Tuesday and Sunday. Even though Hebrew School is over, for me it is not the end of my Jewish education.

Stephanie Hausman
Although I only joined Hebrew School this year, I feel like I’ve been here forever. I’ve heard all of the stories, so I’m updated on all of the other years here. Everyone has been so inclusive and I really appreciate that. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to be friends with everyone. I came from Bi-Cultural, so I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I’m so glad I came though, because I love it.

At my Bat Mitzvah in April, I had so many great experiences with everyone. I learned so much too. Being Jewish is cool because you’re considered in the Jew Crew. I also like celebrating the holidays. Overall, I’ve made so many friends over the past year and have learned many inside jokes!!

Hannah Katz
Being Jewish is a commitment. It’s a part of you, and you are a part of it! This year has made me appreciate being Jewish so much more. This is because I love my Hebrew School friends and get so much support from them. We love to talk to each other at Hebrew School, and I am proud to stand by them as a Jew and party with them at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I have watched my classmates grow up and celebrate their Bat and Bat Mitzvahs, and this year I even saw them get married! I have learned Jewish values from all of the stories. From reading the Torah at my Bat Mitzvah I am able to appreciate the Cantor and the Torah readers. It’s been awesome to share the great experiences with my Hebrew School friends. I will miss you guys like crazy! And I’m like “Barchuuu, I’m a Jew!”

Matthew Kobliner
To me being Jewish means being strong and never giving up. The Jewish people have gone through so many hardships, from Egypt to the Holocaust to so many forms of anti-Semitism. It is surprising that we still exist. That is what it means to me. Also, we embrace our heritage and don’t push it away. I am proud to be a Jew and to have had my Bar Mitzvah so I can say I’m a man. My Bar Mitzvah was a huge achievement for me.

Shaina Lubliner
“Shaina get up for Hebrew School!” used to be my least favorite sentence. However, this year my perspective on Hebrew School has totally changed. With the help of Mrs. Hammerman and Darren, I have come to love my Jewish heritage. Partying with my “Jew Crew” at all the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and then coming to Hebrew School half asleep the next morning has been great! During my seventh grade year I feel like I have bonded with the class, and have also learned some interesting things. My favorite subject to learn about was the Holocaust. Learning about this unbelievable bad thing that happened has helped me realize that worse things can happen than something like a bad grade on a test.

On a brighter note, the “slumber party” was a blast, and our little discussions on Thursdays are a highlight of my week. And of course m&m’s make learning ten times better! This has been the best year ever. Happy Graduation!

Ilana Olin
I love Hebrew School. Wow, I never thought I would say that. It has taught me about dedication, along with many other interesting things. Due to commitments that I have made, I have missed many moments that I would have loved to experience. I cherish every minute at Hebrew School. I receive guidance from my teachers and friends at every class. The bonds I’ve made at Hebrew School will last forever. Everyone has impacted me in one way or another. The stories, laughs, and memories have made this year of Hebrew School my favorite.

On a more serious note, I have learned to value my Jewish heritage and culture. Throughout my years, I have studied holidays, ceremonies, the Holocaust, and places to visit when I go to Israel. I have discovered information about the many generations that came before me. I never would have learned about these important connections to the Jewish community if I didn’t go to Hebrew School.

All in all, being a part of this Hebrew School class has changed my life, and I appreciate everything my classmates do for me. I love you guys!

Sean Rose
I love being Jewish for a ton of reasons. We have so many holidays. My favorite is Purim, when we did a funny Purim spoof and had a carnival. The Purim story is a little weird because it has evil and is happy at the same time. There is a bad guy (Haman) and a good guy (Mordechai), and Mordechai the good guy wins.

Jillian Rutstein
I have gone to Hebrew School for eight years and I have had many memorable experiences. Each year we get a new teacher and each year it gets closer to my Bat Mitzvah. After all my years of Hebrew School I have been lucky enough to have two amazing teachers my last year, Mrs. Hammerman and Darren! I have had Darren a total of three years and each year has been fun and enjoyable. This is my first year having Mrs. Hammerman and I feel like I have known her through my whole Hebrew School experience. This year has been amazing. Not all of my teachers have been as good as Mrs. Hammerman and Darren but I will never forget what I learned. During these years I have met and made new friends.

All of my teachers in Hebrew School always taught me to try my best. They told me to be open to new things. Every year they taught us about all of the Jewish holidays, what the traditions are, and why we follow these traditions. Each teacher at Temple Beth El has made it fun to learn how to read Hebrew and to learn about the prophets. Darren, Mrs. Hammerman, and Mrs. Elkies have made Hebrew School fun in their own unique ways. For example, by playing Hebrew baseball and being on separate teams and competing against each other. My favorite Jewish holiday is Rosh Hashanah because this is the time of year when all of my family comes together and celebrates the beginning of the New Year. My Hebrew School teachers have always been there for me. Mrs. Hammerman and Darren have taught me so much and I will never forget them.

Rebecca Satz
Hebrew School means a lot to me. Here I have made many new friends and learned all about my past. Hebrew School is my home away from home. At Hebrew School I always feel comfortable and all the kids are welcoming and friendly. This year has been very special. First I had my Bat Mitzvah and look forward to doing more for the Jewish community. Another reason this year is special is because over all the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs we have been able to bond.

Being Jewish is something that I really enjoy, whether it’s our bonds of friendship or our ties to Judaism. At Hebrew School I have learned about my ancestors. Something that really meant a lot to me was learning about the Holocaust. Everybody talks about it and associates it with the Jewish people, but this year I really learned about it. I think the Holocaust was the defining moment for the Jewish people. It was our do or die moment. We proved to everyone that we will survive. This is why being Jewish means so much to me!

Simone Teich
I love being Jewish. Being Jewish means being a good person. Hebrew School is a fun place to learn and be with my Hebrew School friends. Even though I don’t like getting up early on Sundays, I love coming here. After a hard week, coming to Hebrew School really makes me happy on Thursdays and Sundays.

From being Jewish, I’ve learned that it makes you a stronger student and person. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah will mean a lot to me. Even if you don’t understand some of the prayers, it’s always good to follow along. Being Jewish has taught me a lot, and will help me later on.

I will miss my Hebrew School class a lot next year. I am going to try and keep in touch with the class. I really do like being Jewish!

Rachel Wolff
Hebrew School and Judaism mean a lot to me and are a big part of my life. As a Jew I feel different from others, but in a good way. People always ask me questions about my religion and it feels good to be able to answer them in detail.

I feel that I was blessed to be put in a class with other kids that I have become very good friends with. I feel that when our Bar/Bat Mitzvah season started, we all became closer and bonded more. I know that even some of the parents noticed this too. I’m so sad that this is my last year with everyone, but hopefully we will think of an idea to see each other every so often. I would like to thank Mara and Darren for making this year the best it could be, and for being the best teachers in the world. Lastly, thank you Mara for reaching out to your friend so that I could see a monkey. It was very thoughtful.

Andrew Young
I remember eight years ago, most of us came together and met each other for the first time. Just from that first class in Kindergarten with Mrs. Bailer, we all knew that we would be great friends. The next year, in first grade, we had Darren as our teacher. OK…now other than our seventh grade teacher Mrs. Hammerman, he is the absolute best teacher we ever had. He was so great that we somehow got him to be our teacher in fourth and in seventh grade! Darren has taught me to be proud to be Jewish. We had so many fun times, and everyone in our class will miss him. In second grade, so many kids joined us. Mrs. Bahar was our teacher, and she was amazing. From Mrs. Bahar, I learned about the Jewish holidays and the basics of Hebrew. In third grade, Mrs. Shapiro was amazing at teaching us how to read Hebrew. She gave me the important Hebrew foundation I needed later to study for my Bar Mitzvah. In fifth grade we met Morah Raema, and learned that there can be a spiritual side to many everyday activities, including yoga! In sixth grade, I had my first teacher with purple hair. What a treat! Mrs. Elkies taught me so many amazing things, including a different perspective on being Jewish. Seventh grade has been the best year yet (Shh…don’t tell our other teachers!). Darren and Mrs. Hammerman have really helped our class to bond. We’ve eaten m&m’s and laughed together. We studied together, cheered each other on at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and learned about important life cycle events. Together, we’ve been to a bris, a baby naming, a funeral, and I even got married! I have formed a strong Jewish identity throughout my years at Temple Beth El, and I had so much fun along the way!

Michael Zielinski
I love Mrs. Hammerman! She is my favorite teacher at this Hebrew School. Hebrew School was a big part of my life. It was so much fun because we learned so much. My favorite part of Hebrew School is that we learned a lot more Hebrew than before. I remember when Mrs. Hammerman helped me with all the stuff for my Bar Mitzvah. I worked really hard on it, and I couldn’t have done it without her. She helped me with every single thing for my Bar Mitzvah.

Everybody in my Hebrew School class was supporting me with my Bar Mitzvah and all my Hebrew work. They are all like my siblings. I feel like they are my family members. When I’m at Hebrew School they’re very supportive. They are all very kind to me. I wish we could all know each other forever; I wish Hebrew School would never end.

Tyler Zielinski
I love being Jewish because you get to go to Hebrew School for about seven years. Also you have many great teachers here, such as Mrs. Hammerman, Mrs. Elkies, and Darren. And you get the amazing snacks that they all bring. They are the best teachers in the whole world. If I could choose them to be my teachers outside of Hebrew School I would have them be my regular teachers. Mrs. Hammerman, you are the best teacher ever. I wouldn’t have learned anything if I didn’t have you. Thank you. Also, I would like to thank Al Treidel for being a great role model.

Noah Zussman
I love being a Jew! It is awesome, amazing, and fun. It means so much to me, and this past year my life has revolved around it. Between Bar Mitzvah lessons and Hebrew School, I have had a very busy life. I have also made amazing and unbreakable friendships. My Hebrew School friends are the core reason why I love being Jewish. All my Hebrew School friends are AWESOME!!!!! I thank them so much for being amazing and always being there for me. You guys rock! Another reason why I love being Jewish is that I love the way Hebrew sounds. Also, it is very spiritual. I feel like I can connect with God. One life lesson I learned is that there is more to being Jewish than just saying you’re a Jew. My favorite subject is Holocaust studies. It is very important to learn what we as a Jewish people went through. It is so important to learn about it because we must never forget. Thanks to all my teachers and friends. I love you all!

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