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WE Essay Winner

14th 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 Ethan Schupper. He is a graduate of  Nicolet High School, Glendale WI, and will be attending  the UW Madison School of Business.

Ethan's essay:

Nearly two millennia ago, Rabbi Hillel stated, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" There is nothing inherently spiritual about this quote - in fact, nothing inherently Jewish about it either (other than its source) - and yet it captures my self-identity or personal code as a Jew and an American.

Growing up as a member of the reform community, I have never considered myself particularly religious, and yet values that are building blocks of Judaism, such as fostering community, promoting respect, and repairing the world, guide my actions. As a leader in the community, I see it as my responsibility to take action for myself and for those around me in the pursuit of these meaningful attributes. My Jewish identity ultimately enhances, guides, and strengthens my role as a leader, and rarely have I found conflict between my American values and my Jewish values.

I have leveraged my values throughout high school, from my formal leadership roles in BBYO and the Teen Philanthropy Board to my daily and weekly interactions with diverse community members at Friendship Circle and a job at the JCC. Rather than sitting back and hoping other people will take action, I constantly seek opportunities that perpetuate both Jewish and American values I believe should guide my actions and my community.

In college, I intend on being a leader within the Jewish community and university at large. By actively participating in and contributing to my university’s Jewish communities to create safe, fun, and welcoming environments, it is my goal to meaningfully engage with these communities and take full advantage of the opportunities I am granted. I plan on pursuing activities that will invigorate the whole community, create a welcoming environment that promotes Jewish learning and values for others and serves to positively represent the Jewish community within the larger university environment.

In doing so, I know that these values will also guide me throughout ALL my activities and not be confined to just within the Jewish community. Values such as respect, community, and justice are the tenets of my personal relationship with Judaism; they are also universal values that can and should be applied to the larger world around me. Whether I am in class, participating in extracurriculars, or even just hanging out with friends, I actively live these values. This can be as simple as welcoming those who feel left out or as complex as tackling issues of injustice and discrimination. To me, these are universal priorities that should not be considered a Jewish or an American value.

The values that are core to my Jewish identity inspire me to pursue positive change as I go out and create meaningful contributions to my community and the world around me. As a Jewish American, I aim to embody these values in my everyday life in word and deed. 

Sun, August 7 2022 10 Av 5782