My Love Letter to Judaism

December 20, 2023
Elizabeth Zabarsky

Denver, Colorado, United States

Class of 2026

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At times like these, being Jewish is more complex than ever. Either it feels like you need to be more Jewish for society or not Jewish enough for your community. The fantastic thing about that, though, is it doesn't matter in our culture. Being Jewish is more than going to the temple a few times a year; it's an experience of a lifetime that we inhale, see, hear, taste, and feel. 

Smell. There are so many smells that we, as Jews, have lined into our culture. On Shabbat, we generally smell sweet spices. The reason behind this is for us to get "extra soul,"- meaning it makes our mitzvah all the better and is not something we eat or hear; we smell the sweet odor to enhance our Shabbat. There are many smells that we, as Jews, are familiar with, like a freshly toasted bagel, but also unique foods that are our family recipes. 

See. We see a lot of hate towards Jews, but in our communities, we see love, which conquers hate daily. During Shabbat services, we see Jews flying to protests; we see the Torah, our passion for our people, our Rabbis, and the hope of escaping dark times. We see our Jewish friends from BBYO and sleepaway camps and are reminded how much more often we wish we got to see them. We, as Madrichim, see the future of Jews and hope to inspire them as our Madrichim did us. 

Hear. Hearing is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspects of being a Jew. We listen to our rabbi's Dvar Torahs, we listen to our cantors sing, we listen to our family members on the bema Leigh their Torah portion, we listen to our Sunday school teachers teach about Tikkun Olam, and we listen to each other. As Jews, though, we don't just hear. We listen. 

Taste. We get to call our culture's foods so many amazing things. Challah, Matzo ball soup, Latkes, Suffganiot, and many more foods remind us how far we have come in acceptance and are simply delicious. 

Feel. We feel the pain and the pride at the same time for being Jewish. We feel our grandparents' hands, and we feel our fulfillment from Havdalah; we feel for those who feel numb, and we feel both physically and spiritually when we are Jewish. 

During hard times, we are bound to feel like the world is giving up on us. But at these times, seeing the light is always what the Jewish people have done, which is why we are here today and why I wrote this article. Being Jewish is more than just black and white; it's about everything in between; it's about the culture, the people, and the exposure to smelling, seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling our pride in our most difficult times.

Leeza Zabarsky is a BBG from B'yached BBG #252 from Rocky Mountain Region and she loves potatoes!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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