ד׳ באדר ה׳תשע״ז (March 2, 2017) The Flame Within Us

I want to begin by saying that this class is unlike any class I’ve ever taken in my fourteen years at Jewish Private School. Its called the Israel Core Course, a class where we are taught about the Jewish Prophets, our lineage and history, but not only out of a tanach, we actually tour the land. Our first day of class, my teacher, Alexandra taught us that there is no clear definition of Jewish History because its not defined as places or ideas that were integral to our religion. Instead, Jewish History is personal memory because each individual has their own story and background which helps shape 
them into the person they are today. Jewish History, just like a lot of other things in Judaism, work both ways. We shape our Jewish History, but at the same time it is able to shape us. In this course, we are taught to question anything and everything including many controversial points brought up in our religion. 

We are taught that its ok to not believe every word of the bible is a hardcore fact, rather they are stories that help shape our nation and teach us valuable lessons. The definition of Torah comes from the root word to teach or to guide, and its not a book of laws. We know this because the first event in our bible is creation, which projects a universal message filled with morality, justice, tough decisions and a good-evil type of society.

On one of our first tiyulim, half way through the desert Betsalel told us to stop and put all our bags down, take all our watches, phones, anything that could tell time off. He told us to take a pen and piece of paper and find a spot not too far away, but where each of us were too far to talk to the person next to us, and he asked us just to reflect, you know, jot down some thoughts. I went far, where the only thing I could see was the clear blue sky and mountains and I sat down on a rock. I looked around me and didn’t say a word, because for the first time in a while I was speechless. I actually let the silence speak for itself, and I learnt the true definition of serenity. At that moment in time, I felt so empowered, yet so insignificant because here I was, like a tiny spec of sand, in an infinite world, but at the same time I was that tiny spec of sand with seven billion other specs of sand who had the chance to either go unnoticed or stand strong together and make a change in this world.

A couple of days later Betsalel reminded us once again in a cave on our tiyul to Sataf, that we were a Mishpacha, a family. We went into that cave, it was completely dark and we were each given a candle. We were instructed to stand in a circle and Betsalel lit the first candle and told us to each share a fear of ours with the group, and once they had opened up, the person before them would light their candle, thereby giving them strength, courage, and light to go on. Before we knew it, the whole cave was lit up each with 44 different stories. It was that moment in time that I realized that even though I was far away from my family and friends, I was no longer alone.

KATIA SURPIN
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