Reflections from Our Religious School Graduates


Mazel Tov to the 2020 graduates of Fairmount Temple’s Religious School who were honored during a special Zoom ceremony on Aug. 2. Below are brief statements they shared during the ceremony.


Emma Hubbard
Continuing my Jewish life, I want to take the values and lessons that years of Religious School has instilled in me and use them to better my place in the world and the environment around me. Growing up in the Jewish faith has taught me how to care for those around me, the world we live in, and myself. I’ve learned that it’s good to ask questions and be curious, and that nothing is stronger than communities working together. Learning Jewish ideals and lessons has made me a kind and open minded person, and has helped me think critically about the state of our world. In turn, I’ve found a passion for social justice and activism that I wouldn’t have been as in touch with if not for temple and conversations with this community. I can’t wait to take the lessons I’ve learned about tikkun olam and chesed out into the world with me to help me grow as a person and make change about which I’m passionate.
-Emma will attend the University of Pittsburgh majoring in environmental studies.

Elisa Katz
I have learned so much in my years at Fairmont Temple. I have also made friends as well. Not only have I been taught about the history of our religion, but I have also been taught how to be a better person. To help others in need and care for others. The memories that I have made will stay with me forever and have made me the person who I am today. I hope to keep these friendships with me as I move to the next step in my journey.
-Elisa will be attending Temple University studying biology and jewelry design.

Julia Polster
During these unprecedented times, I found it leading me to a question: how do we move on and continue life after a tragedy such as this pandemic, and how do we do this in a Jewish way? In my experience, the Jewish way to heal and move forward is best represented by the custom of sitting shiva to mourn a death. Although we must be physically distant right now, I am certain that it is in embracing our Jewish community, and in actively coming together that we will be able to move past this troubling time. It will be hard for the world to recover from all that it is going through. As Jews, we are prepared to come together and recover. How do I feel so confident? Because the idea of community has held a strong presence in my Jewish life, especially here at Fairmount Temple. I have never had a moment where I doubted that the Jewish community was there for me. In fact, I have found that the Jewish community excels at reaching out and at being welcoming and accepting. At Fairmount Temple, my life has been filled with invitations to youth group events, chances to participate in services, and opportunities to help to repair the world. Members of my university’s Hillel have already extended similar hospitality. I feel that as I continue forward as a member of the Jewish community, that this Jewish sense of unity will help us to engage in tikkun olam as we aid in the world’s recovery.
-Julia will be attending the University of Pennsylvania majoring in biophysics.

Audra Rosenthal
Being a part of the Jewish community has given me endless lessons, memories, and values that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the value of community and what my role is within it. I have found it’s important to live with empathy and compassion for others as you may not know their own personal history and truth. Judaism has taught me that everyone deserves to be treated as equal beings and given the same amount of respect that you would expect someone to give to you. Now more than ever in our country, as the world lives in such a divided state, humans need to take time to pause and listen and put themselves in others’ shoes. No one race, religion or people should suffer at the hands of another. No one is exempt from the responsibility of being a good person, no matter their position of power. It has shown me the importance of not just being a part of a community, but giving back to it as well. Without Judaism I would not have found my passion for social justice and taking the extra steps to repair the world. It’s important to be the change you wish to see. To me, I have found that Judaism provides a set of moral guidelines to lead you through a purposeful life and a community to support and join you in that journey.
-Audra will be attending The Ohio State University studying political science and statistics.

Ben White
Being part of the Jewish community has taught me to understand the perspectives of others. As a country and as a world at the moment, there is a political unrest never experienced by people my age in our lifetimes. With knowledge I have gained regarding the history of the Jewish people through the temple and through the community, it opens a light into the view of the marginalized, discriminated, and oppressed. It also helps me understand the grievances of these groups, and whether I agree with the reactions or not, to see where they are coming from and be empathetic. All in all this community has been an incredible experience, a second family in some ways, and it has taught me compassion and to strive towards improving myself as a person.
-Ben will be attending Miami University studying business.