Dear BJEP Friends and Families,
It is so exciting to be writing this at the end of vacation when a new semester of BJEP is about to begin! Last semester ended on such a high note – I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store. My name is Gabriella Feingold, I am a Sophomore at Brandeis. I grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut (not too far away) and came to Brandeis after spending a gap year in the Old City in Jerusalem, Israel (very far away). I am currently working towards a Theater major and a Secondary education minor at Brandeis, which will combine to certify me to teach drama in middle school and high school. At BJEP I am the first grade teacher as well as the director of the after-school theater program. Outside of BJEP, you can find me singing with my a cappella group or getting a cup of coffee with friends.
Our last BJEP session in December was a very exciting day for first grade: it was Consecration, when the first graders are recognized for beginning their Jewish education and taking pride in their Jewish identity. Family and friends, and ten first graders, made their way into the beautiful Berlin Chapel with great anticipation. Even the teachers – myself and Rena – and our TA, Jaclyn, were excited to see what Dena had in store for us. We were not disappointed. Dena told a wonderful story, complete with props, about a poor man with a tiny little Torah who is sailing to a big market city. He is taunted by the rich who tell him, “What do you possess that will make you rich once we get to the markets? You have nothing!” When they get to the market, the rich men sell all of their beautiful jewels and scarves and metals (which we got to hold during the story!) and the poor man has nothing to sell. But he goes to a synagogue, and with that tiny little Torah, he befriends an entire community of Jews. The rich men see that he possesses the most valuable item of them all.
The children were captivated (as were the adults, I might add). I saw a smile of comprehension creep onto each of their faces as they realized what this day meant. This was the day that they received the most valuable item – a promise of Jewish education and a community to go with it. I swelled with pride as each of them shook my hand, Rena’s hand, and Dena’s hand as they received their beautifully adorned Certificates of Consecration. After the ceremony, complete with song and dance led by Jon, our music teacher, the first graders rushed onto the podium to peak into the Holy Ark. There was, indeed, a stunning set of Torahs inside. The children were satisfied – here is the Torah that we will receive. Their excitement was tangible. After such a special celebration, I can’t wait to embark on new adventures with these newest members of our nation!