[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”10″][vc_custom_heading text=”2018 Scholarship Recipient
Mira Morgan” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]While researching my family, I found not only names, dates of birth, and spouses, but also places of residence and stories. The question of “where we came from” through a Jewish prospective is rarely just a single country of origin; more often it is a fuller and richer story involving ancestors leaving oppression and beginning a new life in the United States. Many of my relatives left Russia, Poland, and the Ukraine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to come to New York, escaping antiJSemitism. The importance of discussing the past is to appreciate the struggle and perseverance that took place to establish a future. After fleeing antiJJewish riots in Europe, my genealogy records show that my relatives lived in close proximity to each other in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Through research, pieces of the past fit together to create a picture so rich that it is evident why keeping our past alive is vital to the understanding of who we are. Learning how traditions develop and the effort put into mere survival has given me a better sense of who I am and a greater appreciation for my religion. My studies into my past have taught me to be humble and grateful for my life, and given me confidence that I can overcome obstacles, just as my ancestors did. Keeping a family tree and practicing traditions are critical to keeping Judaism alive. Through the journey of my Jewish education, I have come to appreciate both the consistency of Judaism and the ways my religion has adapted to modern society. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am reciting the same prayers and chanting the same verses from the Torah that my ancestors did before me. But, I am also proud of the changes that have taken place to accommodate our modern lifestyle. I support the stands taken by organizations such as the Reform Jewish Movement, the Religious Action Center of Reforma Judaism, and the Jewish Federation. For example, in the traditional prayers, Jews thanked God for “not being made a woman.” Recognizing the need for reevaluation, the Reform Jewish Movement altered our Reform Miskan T’Filah to read “Praise to you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe who has made me in the image of God.” As a proud Jew in the twentyJfirst century, I am grateful for these changes. I am proud of my religion, and I am committed to the values and ethics that serve as the foundation of Judaism, such as the importance of family, honesty, compassion, and giving. Knowing that my ancestors went to great lengths to protect Judaism has given me the utmost appreciation for my religion, and I don’t have a doubt that I will pass on Judaism to raise my children to share my love for our faith.