I was immersed in to the Jewish culture at a very young age. From ages three to eleven, I attended a Jewish elementary school. With Hebrew and Jewish studies classes every day, along with temple on weekends and being amongst like-minded Jewish individuals, my culture surrounded me. Unfortunately, aside from this privilege, I did not enjoy my time at that school, and left after fifth grade. From then on I had felt detached from my religion because it was no longer all around me. In some ways, no longer attending such a religiously affiliated school made me feel less Jewish. It wasn’t until two years later when one of my best friend’s, Sofia More, had her Bat Mitzvah that I rediscovered my love for my religion. Before that day, I had trouble connecting with one of the most important Jewish values, community, because I associated the Jewish parts of me with a place I felt no belonging in. Watching someone I cared so much about stand on the Bema made me realize that how I connected to my religion was up to me. I realized I was no less Jewish because I didn’t read Hebrew every day, or because I no longer attended a Jewish school. I finally saw my religious community not as the one I had left, but the one I had joined. From then on I’ve been much more aware of how I bring Judaism into my own life, which is exactly why I became a Peer Ambassador. I’m excited to learn more about what being Jewish means to me, and how I can once again immerse myself into that culture.
Alex Newman is a Junior at Lane Tech High School where she’s on the Track and Field team, is the co-president and captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and a member of the Omega program. Outside of school, Alex is the secretary of the Piece by Peace organization, a youth outreach program run but students. Alex’s work with these programs has been rooted in her Jewish values, specifically that of community.