Year Round Programs My College Essay – Jewish Pride
By Samara Kohn, Tel Yehudah 2021, Gesher 2022, Served on LINYC Maz and National Maz.
It was Friday and I was in Jerusalem with over 120 Jewish American teens. Everyone was dressed up in their nicest Shabbat attire. Girls in dresses, boys in button-down shirts. We had just wrapped up my favorite service of the week, Kabbalat Shabbat and it was finally time for dinner. We all sat down, did the blessing over the bread and wine, and devoured our third piece of schnitzel for that day. In the middle of our meal, the French group that was staying at our hostel sat down for their meal as well.
When my group finished eating, we started Friday night Shira. We were singing and dancing and screaming songs in Hebrew and English at the top of our lungs. The French group, who didn’t speak any English, got up and started screaming the same songs we were singing with the same tunes, but in French. They tried to be louder but could not compare to our group of Americans. Suddenly a boy from Young Judaea starts screaming the American national anthem and everyone joins in. The French then begin to scream their national anthem. When the two groups finished, the room went silent and in unison, both started to sing the Hatikvah. I stood there in awe while chanting my country’s national anthem.
The pride I felt at that moment was indescribable. Being a Jew had never felt that good. Two groups from entirely different continents gathered in our homeland with two key similarities: our pride in Israel and our love and devotion to Judaism. The satisfaction I felt to have the privilege to experience this really made me love being a Jew so much more. On the holiest night of the week, in the holiest city in the world, I began to see Judaism from a different light. Being a Jew isn’t just about gathering for prayer or following the mitzvot, being a Jew is about being a part of a community that you can find all around the world. Whether this community is in France, Israel, or on your college campus, all Jews are connected. Wherever I go I wear my Magen David (Star of David) around my neck. I refuse to wear any other piece of jewelry because when they see that star around my neck, Jews around me know they have a community right next to them.