Handeli First-Year Scholarship Recipient: Salomon Bibas



June 30, 2023

Named after my grandfather and King Solomon, my name’s etymology piqued my curiosity from a young age. Judaism teaches that given names are significant in shaping the qualities we embody, so I set out to learn more about my namesakes.  

My name represents my Venezuelan and Jewish heritage and identities, and keeps me grounded in my values. It connects me to my past and reminds me how to live in the present, what to aspire to, and how to work for the future. 

I learned that King Solomon’s wisdom inspired his writing and achievements as a leader. But he wasn’t free of human faults. Delving deeper into King Solomon’s life, I saw an extraordinary and flawed person who sought knowledge and inspiration, and sometimes failed. Both King Solomon and my grandfather had  a passion for life, a peaceful heart, an inquisitive mind, and a desire to improve our world. I hope to emulate these qualities as I embark on my college journey. 

I was also inspired to learn about my namesake through my Bar Mitzvah preparation. My journey to that day was long and bittersweet, as my father, who was seriously ill at the time, sat by my side to teach and guide me without being able to speak. For a year, I invested hours every week studying the carefully crafted Hebrew guide he prepared for me, the different books of prayers, and the Torah portion I would read. I worked to master the distinctive Sephardic Moroccan melodies that have been in my family for generations. As a surprise for my family, I also prepared songs in Ladino and Spanish, to honor our diverse cultural heritage, with its particular warmth, liveliness, and appreciation for life in the face of adversity. 

Saloman is an incoming first-year student at the University of Florida.