This will be the final post on the Temple blog for the foreseeable future. I have enjoyed dedicating the last 10 weeks to contributing to the temple website and greatly appreciate the opportunity to create something for our congregants to enjoy. I’d like to end with a personal reflection on my time at Temple Emmanuel as well as my relationship with Judaism.
Firstly, my family owes a lot to Temple Emmanuel. If you’ve read Issue 8 of the blog, you’ll know that we first learned about the temple through my great-grandmother. After following my mother to the U.S. from the Soviet Union, she was looking to re-establish roots in a new place. Although she spoke no English, she did know some Yiddish. With that, she went to the temple to meet new people in hopes of connecting with the community. As a result of her efforts, both my sister and I are life-long members of Temple Emmanuel. My family has celebrated several milestones there and greatly appreciate the value of such a supportive community. Despite there being very few Jewish people in the region, this community has held strong for 75 years.
My relationship with Judaism has reached far beyond the walls of the temple. My parents have long emphasized the importance of tradition that centers around our religion. Although we may not be the most strictly devout Jews, we are definitely practitioners of Jewish culture.
This particular cultural participation has granted me several opportunities that I never even knew I had. When I was 13 I went off to my first summer at sleepaway camp. This camp, although not expressly Jewish, had a Russian-Jewish founder and a large Russian-Jewish population. There I met some of my closest friends, many of whom I will be a counselor with this coming summer. I don’t want to credit all these friendships solely to our shared identity. However, there is an element of instant similitude that can help catalyze a relationship. We grew up eating the same food, our grandparents all seem to share the same comical traits, and we all have a small catalog of fun Yiddish-born phrases that we throw into conversations.
I have my Jewish identity to thank for both my existing friendships and hopefully future ones. As I go forward, I hope that I can find a community similar to the one I did six years ago at my camp. I aim to accomplish this goal by seeking out Jewish student groups and organizations like Hillel. Although it’s possible that I may not find my closest friends by connecting via our shared heritage, I find comfort in knowing that I will always belong to a community.
Thank you for reading these 10 issues of The Shikhanovich Spiel. I look forward to continuing my journey.