Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jess Sickles' Sinai Statement

An important part of growing up and becoming a self aware individual is feeling a sense of belonging and having a community to fall back on. Throughout my younger years I yearned to be included in a group that would welcome me and allow me to thrive. I did not realize that I was already a member of a special community until I extended my time here at TBS. This temple community that I am a part of is truly something to marvel at. How 20 plus teens are able to get along extremely well and feel as close as we all do is a great feat. These healthy relationships did not come to be overnight. It took time spent laughing at kallot, discovering New York, engaging in discussions during class time, and exploring issues in Washington DC. No matter the time or place our temple community has been growing and changing for the better, and I am so glad that I have been able to be a part of it.

I remember stepping off the bus at the first kallah in 8th grade not knowing what to expect. I was not particularly close with any one group of people and was afraid that I would be unable to find my place within the group. What I found though, was that I didn’t need to worry. After that first kallah I realized what a great group of friends I had at the temple. I was able to be myself around these kids and I did not have to worry that they would make harsh judgments or criticism. After spending the weekend with the temple, it assured me that I would be able to create long lasting relationships. I also felt a growing sense that I was entering into a strong community that I could fall back on. I feel as though the kallot enabled us all to step away from the identities we encompass at school and really be ourselves.

Both trips I attended brought us closer as a community too. The New York trip allowed us to step out of our comfort zones. Being in a different environment helped strengthen the relationships we each held with each other as we got to see the other group members in a different light. Sharing new experiences with each other and creating unforgettable memories was a bonding experience that I know I will not forget. Learning about our culture together brought a sense of community as we all shared common ways of life. Being in such a gigantic setting, with a small group of friends also made me feel closer with the group. And on the next trip to Washington DC, I feel that the community was well established and that I truly was a member of it. As we merged and mingled with the other Jewish kids at the Religious Action Center, we all knew that at the end of the day we would come together again. By this point in time we were a strong community capable of opening up to others but always knowing that if we needed each other we would be there. The difficulty process of preparing our lobbying statements was yet another experience that allowed us to work together. Being together as a group this year in DC showed me how strong of a relationship I have with the other teens. I felt completely comfortable having conversations with anyone and even unleashing my awkward tendencies on the group without a self conscious care.

The final component to what really brought us together as a community this year was the time we spent together in class. Talking about thought provoking subjects enabled us to get a sense of each others’ morals and beliefs. Discussing substantive issues is not usually an adolescent activity, so these discussions reflected the introspective thoughts we all harbor. Class time was also spent, in part, on catching up with each other, which is so important in maintaining close friendships. I am so glad and honored to be a part of an ever growing and close community. I feel lucky to be able to be a part of a group where I can be myself and am constantly allowed to grow closer to my friends. I can only hope that this community stays as close and comfortable in the years ahead.

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