Prior to sophomore year, my Jewish experience was divided into a fairly secular time, spent during the school year,
and the summer time where my summer camp annually led me to decide that I was orthodox – at least for a month
or two. During this time, I constantly held two, often contrary beliefs in my head. For example, I knew why my shul
had women read the Torah and I knew why my camp didn’t. But I had no idea of where I stood.
Enter Shoresh. Shoresh teaches about Tanakh, rabbinic commentary, theology, Jewish history in a modern context.
We have a diverse group that is constantly deliberating, challenging each other to decide what Jewish values mean
to us, and even what modern Jewish values are. We have something special.
The worth of a Shoresh education isn’t just that it teaches you, for example, about the settlements. It teaches you
how to process different arguments. How to analyze rhetoric and bias. When you learn about the settlements, or
any other matter, in Shoresh you learn to think about it.
That’s what Shoresh teaches: critical thinking. I am no longer some kid constantly employing doublethink. What I
have learned during my time here has given me a basis to determine my morals and my theology. I know where I
stand, at least on a lot of issues.
The Most Fun Night of the Week
I want thank all those who made my Sunday nights the most intense and the most fun night of the week, month after month, year after year, studying Jewish texts and learning about my culture and history.
I am not the most observant of Jews, and those who know me personally know exactly how true those words are. But I have always had this drive, this passion for learning, this thirst for knowledge, that only a rigorous Jewish education could quench.
Education starts with teachers. Shoresh has some of the best I have ever studied with. They made Jewish learning fun, injecting every class with wit, humor, and a dash of the Jewish spirit that we all fed off of. Two of my favorite memories:
First was the night Rabbi Abramson discussed the proper blessing over wine created in the Replicator from Star Trek. I believe it was the shehakol, the blessing over food not covered in other blessings, as the wine’s molecules never came from “the vine”).
Second were the spirited debates between Maryana Harouni and Rabbi Feld. They were extraordinary: Whenever they were together, it was always either across a table, or poring over some verse in scripture they were arguing over. The two of them casually tossing out verses of Talmud and Torah, making points and counterpoints at the drop of a hat; well, it was a sight to behold.
But it is not just the quality of the teachers that make Shoresh so special. What really puts it over the top are the other students. There was never a night I did not leave impressed with our discussion and the breadth of our collective knowledge. Our philosophy class this past year had us tackle some deep and heavy subjects, which we dove into without hesitation. The definition of God, the importance of Israel to
American Jews, and the significance of the Torah’s origins were topics given to us as freely as we were given math problems in school. It was glorious studying with such interesting and compelling people. I found myself looking forward to Shoresh as much for my friends as for the classes. I will never forget them.