Buber claims that there are two kinds of relationships in the world: The I-It relationship and the I-Thou
    relationship. An I-It relationship is one in which a person thinks of another person or object in terms of what
    use the affection, he is still regarding the other as an "it," or something to be used.

    On the other hand, an I-Thou relationship manifests itself between two people, or an object and a person,
    who have no material use for each other. Instead, their personalities speak freely to each other in
    unencumbered enjoyment.

    Two years ago, I had the outstanding opportunity to play Juliet in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet".  As
    Juliet, I didn't feel like another person, as many would expect. Instead, it was like unearthing another
    version of myself, one that had newly discovered this ability to love and grieve despite my lack of real
    experience. Looking at this from Buber's perspective, I was able to achieve a pure I-thou relationship in
    which the mechanics of performance -- mainly the lines and blocking -- were peripheral to the emotion of
    the experience. It was this I-thou relationship that inspired me to hold onto theater for the rest of my life.
    The I-thou relationship clarified for me that theater is an art that I could never replace or live without.

    The concept of an I-thou relationship is deceptively difficult to grasp in our society, where we constantly try
    to get ahead and be productive in some way. As teenagers, between tough school schedules and
    enormous amounts of extra-curriculars, we don't often have the pleasure of simply experiencing an I-thou
    relationship. That's what makes Shoresh so unique to me.

    For the past 5 years, we have had the opportunity to show up to Shoresh on Sunday nights, and simply
    learn about Judaism—with no strings attached. Shoresh does not expect anything from us besides our
    presence and attention, and we don't expect material rewards. We have had the privilege to learn about
    Judaism without judgment or pressure, which, according to Buber, is the ideal circumstance.

    The I-thou relationship Shoresh creates between its students and the material, as well as its students and
    teachers, is an exceptional bond that has allowed each one of us to realize our own place in Judaism. As
    we head off to college, Shoresh has given us the solid basis of knowledge necessary to continue to mold
    our Jewish identities simply by asking us to be available and open to learn for three hours each week.  
    The cliché "less is more" rings true through the Shoresh experience because by stripping away
    expectations or uses defined by the I-it relationship, we were able to experience and learn about what was
    actually important to us on a personal level.  

    (Class of 2013)
    Finding Our Place in Judaism
Ulpan Ben Yehuda
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