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Akiva Student Testimonials

We are proud to share words of Torah delivered in June of 2016 by ninth-grade students reflecting on their first Akiva year.

Emily B. - Class of 2019

In the beginning of the year, I was really nervous to be starting at Schechter Westchester. This was so scary for me because I would be starting in the second month of school. I did not know anyone prior to starting and the Shabbaton and orientation had already happened so people had already made friends. Not only was I nervous about making friends, I was also nervous about the dual curriculum; I was about to dive into subjects that I had no exposure to. I did not know anything about Judaism except for the basic things we would do in my family such as parties on the High Holy Days, Passover Seders, and my personal favorite: getting presents for Chanukah.

Jordan S. - Class of 2019

Before I heard of Schechter Westchester, I lived in the city, living an abnormal life compared to other kids my age. I was homeschooled. I was not aware of my Jewish identity until I enrolled in the local Hebrew school and visited my great-grandmother on Sundays. In Hebrew school, I learned prayers and biblical stories, as well as their significance in the Torah. From my great-grandmother, I learned about living as a Jew in Europe during the time of the Holocaust and in America. I learned about the German occupation and her journey from Germany to Switzerland to America. She told us about how hard it was to start her life all over again and what it was like to lose the comfortable lifestyle she had in Germany as a girl.

Molly C. - Class of 2019

To be Jewish. What does this mean to me? When I switched schools, I never thought about how the Jewish culture would become so significant in my life. I always thought I switched because I wanted to start anew, make some nice friends, and hopefully challenge myself academically. However, the true challenge that I discovered was not in my academics, but in discovering who I am.

At the beginning of the year, I thought my Jewish classes would be easy As and have no significance compared to my other classes.

Gabi N. - Class of 2019

Hi everyone and good morning or shall I say boker tov, now that I know how to say it in Hebrew. I want to start my Dvar Torah by talking about what being Jewish means to me. Even though I had gone to Hebrew school, had my bat mitzvah in Israel, did Jewish traditions in my home, and had been going to a Jewish summer camp for many summers – I never really felt that connected to Judaism. I thought that being Jewish meant reading pointless prayers, studying Torah, and observing holidays. My perspective has totally changed. Being in Akiva has shown me how rich a culture and religion Judaism truly is.

These words by Rabbi Yishmael, which reflect the essence of our mission, are found in Pirkei Avot. They advise us to lead lives filled with learning, teaching, preservation of our heritage, and social action.

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