SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange celebrated the graduation of 26 Hebrew High students on May 4. During the ceremony, the students each delivered 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 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 — 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, during which they engaged with issues of social justice.
“This kind, thoughtful and engaged group of graduates embodies the very best of our TSTI community,” Klein said. “They’ve enjoyed learning from others, including those whose opinions or beliefs differ from theirs. They are all true mensches and we look forward to their contributions as young adults to TSTI and the world at large.”