Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Congratulations to TBS and Needham High School Graduates by BESTY President Matt Lerner

Ed. Note: The following speech was delivered at Shabbat Services several weeks ago at which we offered congratulations to our graduating seniors. The words of blessing were delivered by Matt Lerner, current and incoming BESTY president. In recognition of yesterday's Needham High School graduation ceremonies, we offer Matt's words below.

Everyone loves ice cream. (For those of you who are lactose intolerant, my apologies, please cover your ears)… You know…I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Everyone loves to eat ice cream in their own way-cup or cone, shake or split, sprinkles or fudge. But whether you would vote for chocolate, vanilla or maybe cookie dough, we can all agree that it’s a great dessert.

As it happens, I know quite a bit about this tasty treat. (Stay with me here, I promise to get back to our graduates…) I spend the majority of my weekends scooping ice cream, often getting more on me than in the cup. Working at an ice cream store, I have to opportunity to observe the differences in how people prefer this iconic frozen dessert.

One day, a small child and his grandmother came into the store together. It’s a big store, so it took them a while to get their bearings, checking out all of the flavors and toppings. (Folks come in all the time and get overwhelmed by all of the choices. They end up settling on a flavor based on a catchy title, pretty color, or they go with what they know.) But this little boy was SO excited, he couldn’t decide on just one. He wanted EVERYTHING! The flavors, the toppings, in a cup with a cone… and by the time he was done, it was falling out of the cone, dripping everywhere. It was not a pretty sight. He had a scoop of black raspberry ice cream, with a scoop of peanut butter as well. He wanted marshmallow and strawberries and kit-kats on top. He just kept adding things while his grandmother stood by in shock.

When he was finally done, and it was his grandmother’s turn to order, she chose a small cup of mint chocolate chip. No toppings needed.

And as I watched this, I realized that as a child you want everything. You need to try all the flavors and combinations to find the ones you really love. As you grow older, you learn what you like most. And that’s the beauty of it… Some day that child will grow up, and bring his grandkids to get ice cream - hopefully I won’t still be there - and he will look on with a knowing smile as his grandchildren order everything on the menu.

And so now, as you move on from TBS, NHS, and this phase of your life, I want to offer you good luck in creating your own perfect ice cream Sundae, no matter what shape it takes. You will be constantly adding to it, changing it, altering the flavors as you grow and learn about yourself.

Keep in mind that there is only so much room in your cup - and be sure to keep the important things in there - your loved ones, memories, and your Jewish identity. Although you’re not all going to be together next year, remember that TBS will always be a common ingredient in your Sundae. Regardless of cup or cone, remember that this experience we’ve had at TBS is always with you - even if it gets buried underneath the other flavors.

Enjoy the chance to taste all that life has to offer: Good luck and we will miss you. Shabbat Shalom.

--Matt Lerner

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