My First Jewish Experience
Posted on 07/23/2014 @ 11:31 AM
When I signed up for International Kallah last fall as a girl who went to religious school for over eight years, I thought I knew who I was as a person and as a Jew. Now, over a week into Kallah, my perspective has changed more than I thought possible. Every morning and afternoon, the whole Kallah community comes together to pray. No matter what sect you are or how much practice you have had, the educators make it easy to participate and be a part of the community. The past five prayer services that we have engaged in as a community have ranged from musical services led by Eric and Happie, meditative services led by Rabbi Zac, and even an Orthodox style service with split genders and a Mechitza. Being able to participate in services that I would not necessarily engage in at home has definitely opened my eyes to other areas of Judaism. The broad range of services is keeping everyone here engaged and eager to pray. Not only is Kallah a place where everyone is welcome; Kallah is a place where everyone is fully engaged in learning, prayer, and being a part of a community. Praying in this Kehillah (community) has been meaningful beyond words for me and the other teens here. Apart from praying, Kallah has given me amazing opportunities to practice and learn about my Judaism. The most prevalent example of this happened to me on the first full day of being at Kallah. I had no idea that the first full day was the 17th of Tammuz and the beginning of the three-week mourning period for T’sha B’av (the destruction of the temple.) I, along with 30 other teens, took the chance to fast from sunrise to sunset and spend the day commemorating and learning about the destruction of the temple. Growing closer to the other teens and staff members fasting with me, although I was hungry, was the most meaningful way that I could have hoped to start my Kallah journey. During meals, we hung out in the big quad, distracting our minds and stomachs from the struggle before us. We spent our entire day trying to explain our decisions to our peers. For me, thinking about those whom we lost and being able to learn in-depth about our history as a Jewish people was not even a question, but more an obligation.