by Lee Shapiro
I am a Jewish teen. I have learned about the Holocaust in school,in temple, and through my family. In school I have learned the global history implications, in temple I have studied the implications for Judaism, and with my family I have discussed the implications that the Holocaust had on Jewish family structures. Among all three of the groups there have been common themes: education and understanding.
I am not religious. I am not a big fan of sitting in temple reading Torah and chanting prayers. If anything, everyone sitting there chanting in unison makes me a little uncomfortable. Even though sitting in temple makes me antsy and uncomfortable, I keep coming back and participating in the general Jewish community. This year, I am the President of the Youth Board at my Temple. I try to bring new high school students to participate in the general temple community. I also create programs and activities for the youth at our Temple. My ancestors who were killed or had to flee the Holocaust had that community of Jews taken from them. I am lucky that I do not have to escape from my Jewish community, and I want to make it as big and vibrant as I can.
At my temple, the youth board takes different age groups on trips around the world. These trips tell the stories of the Jewish people. I have been to Atlanta, Alabama, and Memphis to explore the Jewish community of the American South and their role in the Civil Rights Movement. Last February, I had the privilege of going to Prague and seeing the beauty of the Czech Jewish Community despite the persecution they faced. I usually sign up for these trips not knowing many people because I want to learn about the Jewish struggle and see my place within the history of the Jewish people. Whenever I travel by myself or with my family, I always try to find the Jewish quarter or a synagogue, and learn the story of the Jews from that specific location. As a relative of many Holocaust survivors, I feel I have a duty to continue the Jewish community. No matter what form it may take I feel that I need to defend my community passionately, since it was once nearly totally destroyed.