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WE Essay Winner

13th Annual Betty Siegel Essay Contest

Betty Siegel was a wonderful advocate and supporter of our synagogue and Sisterhood. She created a Fund for Jewish education and scholarship that now supports our Essay Contest for our Graduating High School Seniors.

The winner of the 2021 essay contest and recipient of a $360 Scholarship is Taliah Lansing. She is a graduate of  Homestead High School, Mequon WI, and is the the daughter of Richard and Loelynn Lansing. Taliah will be attending  the College of Wooster in Ohio to study Physics and Math.

Taliah's essay:

As a high schooler, it is easy to forget that I am a JEWISH high schooler. There are days that go by where instead of saying the one hundred blessings I am supposed to recite, I do not think of any. It is sad to know these days happen, but it feels worse when I do not realize them.The way I like to look at it is that even though I am not saying the traditional Hebrew prayers, I am saying my own bits of “gratefulness”. A lot of times, these thoughts of “gratefulness” don’t mention G-d at all. For example, I am thankful for my mom when I see she cut up strawberries for my lunch. I smile when I see the note my dad wrote for me that tells me to “have a great day”. I laugh to myself when I see my grandfather’s Wisconsin Badgers cup on the dining room table. Although I do not say G-d’s name, I know his voice is whispering through the channels of my heart. On those days when I do not think I am practicing Judaism, I really am. I am Jewish;therefore, every single thing I do stems from the Jewish teachings that have been instilled in me over the past eighteen years. See, I just smiled when I wrote the number eighteen! What’s more Jewish than that? I wasn’t thinking about it, but that happy and “grateful” moment is specific to my Jewish identity.

I choose to prioritize the secular aspects of my life until I can no longer do that. For example, if I accidentally say something hurtful to a classmate, I automatically think back to what I was taught about repenting on Yom Kippur. I have to apologize sincerely on three separate occasions, and if they still do not accept my apology on the third time, then I can release my sin. While this is just one case, there are countless others I could bring up. I love how being Jewish gives me the space I need to live my life as I choose. I have never once felt like my religion is confining or restricting. I am also glad I have a tight knit community to fall back on if I need it. If I feel lonely, I can go to the JCC and meet a mensch wherever I turn. When I get stressed, I can go to CEEBJ and talk with people who have lived through my struggles. In case I need a home on my future college campus, I will walk right over to the Hillel. Even though I will be living hours away from the home I have loved for many years, I know that wherever I go,there will always be someone Jewish. I’m never alone when I say I’m a Jew.

 

Thu, September 16 2021 10 Tishrei 5782