Guest blogger Batsheva Sholomson is a junior at Stony Brook University. She is a Philosophy major with a minor in Chemistry and Political Science, as well as on the Pre-Medical track. Batsheva currently serves as the president of Stony Brook Hillel. She is also deeply involved in community service projects and engaging the college community.
Pictured: the author with Honorees Mark and Gloria Snyder & fellow Stony Brook Hillel student leader Jeremy Benhamroun
In light of recent tragedies, including Hurricane Sandy and the violence in Israel, we have all had time to deeply contemplate and reflect on our own lives and actions. These unexpected and devastating moments encompass an impalpable, yet strong sense of hurt and disappointment deep-seated within Jews all across the world. Although we may not have been directly affected by the calamities, the pain and agony is felt by the entire nation.
I was asked to speak at the UJA Inaugural Dinner on November 28, honoring those who have committed their lives to helping the less fortunate and preserving the Jewish community, including members of the Stony Brook Hillel Board of Directors, Gloria and Mark Snyder, as well as Brenda and David Rosenberg and Suri Jacknis. I was so incredibly honored and thankful to have been a part of such a beautiful evening surrounded by remarkable individuals.
I walked in and was greeted with the smiles and friendly faces of distinguished members of the UJA community. I had recognized how fortunate I was to be a part of such a program, but I believe the aura and hospitality reinforced my enthusiasm for all of the learning, discovery, and growth to come. The entire evening was comprised of speeches and conversations and it was awe-inspiring. The honorees and everyone who contributed are quintessential individuals who give of their time and diligence solely for the empowerment and development of the community. I was intrigued by the passion and genuine care in providing aid and restoration to those who essentially lost their livelihoods to Sandy, while others suffered attacks in Israel.
When it was my turn to speak, I gazed up at the large crowd and my nerves gradually subsided. I was able to share all of the vast opportunities and prospects my peers have accomplished. There are often misconceptions that young adults are complacent and oblivious to the world around us. I was so proud to articulate the ambition of Hillel students in taking matters into our own hands, whether it is through raising awareness, cleanup efforts, hosting Shabbat meals or running campaigns, among other volunteer initiatives.
Despite the chaos of the world, the entire event was filled with a sense of tranquility and serenity. We may not know what the future holds, but I am certain that the young leaders of Hillel will continue to impact the world in ramifying ways. I was so inspired by the leaders of our communities and I intend to seize moments like this as a stimulus to push me in the right direction and reach novel and greater heights.