I was one of a handful of Jewish children in my public school. I was the kid who brought matza in for other children to sample, and accompanied the school choir on the piano when they sang the token “Hanukkah song.” My Jewish pride was rooted in exceptionality.
As a teen, I excelled in hazanut (cantorial singing). My synagogue became my second home, as it had for all of my immediate family members. I took pride in my ability to “fit in” in my synagogue community, to know the words and melodies.
In college, I began to study Jewish history more seriously, particularly the Holocaust. Jewish pride compelled me to study and seek understanding.
While working at Yad Vashem, I became interested in how we teach the Holocaust. Jewish pride fostered my growing connection to the past, and to the legacy of those who perished, as well as those who survived.
Studying at Pardes in Jerusalem, I felt profoundly connected to a group of Jews in a way I’d never experienced before. Jewish pride meant a sense of at-homeness, camaraderie and community.
Returning home to the U.S. and starting my graduate work in Jewish education, Jewish pride became something I needed to share, create and nurture in others. It was at that point that I decided to serve the Jewish community as a professional.
As a Jewish historian, I started to teach others about how the Jewish people survived against all odds. I took pride in all forms of Jewish creativity and resistance, of rebirth and renaissance.
As a synagogue professional, I sought to support and nurture individuals for whom the synagogue community was a lifeline in a time of profound isolation, particularly during the pandemic. I expressed my Jewish pride in new ways – by treating each person according to what I believe to be core Jewish values of love, respect, and dignity.
As a sister, daughter and aunt, I feel Jewish pride in celebrating holidays together in our loud, raucous gatherings. In maintaining close bonds to family, I honor the memory of my parents, who are my strongest Jewish role models. As a mother and wife, I take pride in raising a child whose Jewish values are rooted in empathy, social justice, and kindness to others.
At USCJ, I help synagogue leaders across two states strengthen and support their congregations. In doing so, I promote and support Jewish pride.
My Jewish pride guides my actions, both public and private, and defines my sense of self.