“Judaism is so cool,” says Shoresh Hebrew High School Student

Shoresh Hebrew High School is a unique Jewish studies program for 8th – 12th grade students attending secular schools in the Greater Washington area. Shoresh builds a strong foundation for students to become critical thinkers about our Jewish heritage, to find a sense of shared community and destiny among all Jews, and to meet the challenges of American Jewish life. Micah S. and Jess K. are both students at Shoresh, as well as Churchill High School.

Read on for Micah and Jess’s interview with Federation Teen Engagement Fellow Alexa Herman.

What is your favorite thing about being Jewish?

Micah: I love that in Judaism, we have the ability to be different, to be wrong, to argue, to be opposite, Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox. We can look at a quote and each of us can interpret it differently. It doesn’t matter how you think about things, or if you believe in God. You’re still Jewish even if you think differently from others.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences at Shoresh?

Jess: One time, I got into an intellectual debate with my teacher about the Book of Esther. She had one opinion, and mine was very different, but it was a very respectful debate. I loved that because we have such a good relationship, we could discuss things. She was so open to what I had to say, and even to me challenging her. It was the type of moment you don’t get anywhere else.

How has your Jewish involvement impacted you?

Micah: I would say that it has impacted me a lot. In school, you learn about material things, but at Shoresh, we’re really taught to look beyond the basics and at the world around us. The difference is that we learn about a guiding moral compass, and how to apply it.

What is something you want other Jewish teens to know?

Jess: Judaism is so cool, and it doesn’t have to be based only on texts. It’s what you focus on, and you can apply it to your everyday life. It’s a cool thing to be with other Jews, and to have a connection with so many people around the world.