community environment, where Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist Jews can all be equally
comfortable and not feel marginalized.
Shoresh exemplifies, better than anything I have ever seen, the value of klal yisrael. Klal yisrael is the idea that
Jews, regardless of denomination or belief, are all members of one people and that we must respect each other
fully even though we may disagree sharply when it comes to our theology and practice.
I’m orthodox, but I grew up in a conservadox household, I went to a “community”—but for all practical purposes
conservative—day school, I belong to both an orthodox and a conservative synagogue, I go to a conservative
camp, and most of my Jewish friends from school are reform. And in none of those environments have I ever seen
the kind of respect for difference that Shoresh offers. Far too many liberal Jews deride traditional Jews as
backwards, sexist, and even medieval, and far too many traditional Jews deride their liberal counterparts as
spineless, theologically incomplete, or even “not actually Jewish.” It’s sad, but it’s true.
So how does Shoresh do such a good job where other Jewish organizations don’t? The answer, I think, is threefold.
The first, and perhaps most obvious component to Shoresh’s success is diversity. Our class, at least, represents
an impressive range of ideologies.
The second component is continuity. A core group of students and teachers has been together for most of these
past 5 years, and I think it’s safe to say that we, plus those who came later, have become for the most part very
comfortable with each other. This lets us really be honest in our discussions.
So diversity and continuity are hugely important, but this recipe still needs one more ingredient, and that ingredient
is high-quality teaching. Our teachers have consistently done an amazing job of leading our discussions,
challenging us to think beyond our preconceived notions, and providing exceptional insight of their own.
When you take a diverse group whose members are comfortable with each other and like each other, and are led
by highly capable individuals, the people in that group are going to respect what their counterparts have to say no
matter how much they may disagree with it. That’s klal yisrael. That’s what makes Shoresh special, and that’s what
I’m most grateful to Shoresh for providing for me and my peers.
(Class of 2013)
|Ulpan Ben Yehuda
at the JCCGW is now open to
Shoresh students for only
$100 per semester,
a $300 savings!
Call today for details.
|Shoresh Hebrew High
School is a nonprofit
organization and has
501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.