Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange celebrated the graduation of 26 Hebrew High students on May 4. During the ceremony, the students each gave a speech inspired by the essay “Why I am a Jew” by French writer and poet Edmund Fleg. Their remarks highlighted why being Jewish is uniquely important to each of them at this point in their lives.
“We are proud that so many students chose to continue their involvement with our TSTI teen programs through 12th grade, through participation in our Hebrew high, youth group and/or our madrichim (religious school teaching assistant) programs,” Rabbi Alexandra Klein said. “This is especially true given the challenges of the last year, as they all logged on for weekly virtual programming. It is a clear demonstration of their ongoing commitment to learning and engagement with the TSTI community.”
The students, who come from South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, and Livingston, have developed strong bonds to each other and to TSTI over the years. The constraints of social distancing did not hamper their desire to study with clergy and each other during their final year of Hebrew high school; instead, they came together virtually to engage with issues of social justice, a powerful communal commitment for TSTI members.