Stacy Gomes frin the Eser Cambridge group shares about her experience.
I am so happy that I decided to sign up for Eser! The experience so far has been educational in a fun and social atmosphere. The varying discussions our group has had, from Jewish education and culture to the meaning of Shabbat, has helped me understand the values of Jews around the world.
It has amazed me that a group of Jewish people, from varying backgrounds, and geographic areas, can connect so well, as though they had known one another for their entire lives. Having had little Jewish knowledge growing up, my first experience of this occurred when I went on Birthright, in October 2011. I typically refer to it as the trip of a lifetime! Shortly after, I joined Chabad where I started taking Hebrew lessons and participated in discussions on Jewish life. Eser is my third stop in my journey of Jewish education, and I have been very happy with this decision.
When I came back from Birthright, I had so many questions about subjects that I wanted to study, but felt overwhelmed with everything I needed to catch up on. I know there are other people who can relate to this, and we sometimes feel like we are the only ones. But the great thing is we are not, and in Eser, you will learn that everyone has something to contribute, regardless of their background.
Another reason why I like Eser so much is because our leaders are there to answer all of our questions and to guide us on the right path. Elisha Gechter, our group leader, has had an especially huge impact on my experience. I look forward to our discussions, and the advice and humor she graciously provides in the heart of her home!
This past week, our Cambridge group got to meet with the three other Eser groups at Hebrew College in Newton. We began with a delicious kosher pizza dinner and schmoozing followed by an Israeli Stage performance of “Apples from the Desert.” It was an amazing play about an Orthodox Sephardic Jewish family living in Jerusalem whose daughter moved away to live on a kibbutz with a secular Ashkenazi boy. The play explored the social and religious rifts between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews and affirmed that woman are free to make their own decisions when it comes to religion and love.
I am really looking forward to meeting with the Cambridge group for upcoming sessions on the Torah and Talmud, Monotheism and Shiva. Our group is able to have such deep discussions that lunch us into other interesting topics – these often spring from upon someone’s own personal experience. I like that we are all able to bring something different to the table – we all know that there is no right or wrong response so we can freely say what’s on our minds. We learn new things from one another, which I believe helps with our own personal Jewish growth. And that is one of the main reasons that most of us signed up for Eser!
Eser concludes with a group Shabbat next month. We are meeting with the other Eser groups at Kehillath Israel in Brookline, where we will discuss several Jewish innovations. I am most excited to discuss Jewish humor and to find out how it is tied to Torah and Jewish life. I am also excited for my first trip to KehillathIsrael!
There is so much that I have already learned, and my Eser journey has only started! I am so happy with the connections I have made with the Cambridge group members and leaders. I hope to connect with members of the Newton and two Brookline groups as well, and to enjoy our journey together.