happen. To be fair, it doesn’t take much to make me angry.
that someone disagreed with me or challenged my views or values. The angrier I leave, the more closely I hold the
conviction that was challenged.
majority of ideas. Here at Shoresh, there is not unanimity on issues related to religion, Judaism, God, tradition, or
This past year, I probably left the most angry after a discussion that was not directly related to the curriculum.
During the discussions of plans for Passover, someone mentioned that she puts an orange on her family’s seder
plate. This tradition stems from a possibly apocryphal story in which a rabbi said that women had as much of a
place on the bema as an orange on the seder plate. As a result, some people have adopted the orange as a part
of their seder plate.
The teacher, much of the class, and I got in an argument about whether or not the orange had a place on the
seder plate. The teacher's argument was three fold. She argued that the orange dignified remarks that may not
have actually been made, but are incredibly disrespectful, whatever your beliefs are on the level of participation
women should have in Judaism. She also argued that she served as her own orange, that she was the proof that
women belong on the bema, so an orange was unnecessary. Her last argument was that the orange would lose its
symbolic value as it was passed on through generations as people would forget the purpose of the orange.
Unsurprisingly, I disagreed. I felt that the introduction of the orange and its eventual loss of symbolic value reflects
what has happened as women have gained full participation in Judaism in some communities. Women’s
participation started out as a completely foreign concept, but people began to accept it. Women began to
participate in some places despite the outcries from others, and slowly, just as the orange becomes normal to new
generations, so too, I hope, will women’s participation in Judaism become seen as “normal”. The orange is about
more than the one person who chooses to put the orange on the seder table, but about the change it represents.
needs to include an orange. I was arguing for a flexibility of tradition to allow for positive change in a way that is
meaningful and positive to individuals, families, and communities. Thus, I left angry. My opinions were
fundamentally challenged, I was forced to defend them, and I left riled up. I had been introduced to a new idea,
formulated an opinion, listened to other opinions, and defended my own opinion all within a small part of a class.
The informal and personal way in which opinions and ideas were able to flow candidly in the classroom are a clear
demonstration of the Shoresh commitment to teaching more than just the material, but teaching interest. To make
me angry about a subject is to make me care about a subject. I never thought I would ever care so much about an
orange, but, here we are.
I would like to thank all of the Shoresh teachers for exposing me to new material, new opinions; and most
importantly for making me leave angry. (Class of 2015)
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