Alissa Platcow is a 12th grader who recently completed Prozdor’s Moreshet Program, our senior leadership seminar. What follows is a speech she gave to her classmates and their families on the last night of the program.
During his last interview, Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke to the youth of America saying, “live your life like a work of art; use all the textures, hues and mediums possible.”
Every action we view or take is just another splatter of paint in our works of art. Prozdor has created a specific color and texture unlike any other produced by the hundreds of different brush strokes and thousands of colors. The design created on our canvases is in part the result of the faculty hired to teach us, the directors themselves, the building we learn in and the overpriced snack food during break. However, something far larger is seen on our canvases: the sense of community. While giving a tour to prospective students, I learned that every Sunday morning, this building holds over 650 Jewish teens. That’s a lot of people. For the past two to six years that we have been coming to this building, Prozdor has treated us well. We have had a huge selection of classes taught by capable teachers (that were happy to be there) to choose from creating an environment of choice rather than the traditional Hebrew school model. The student body is made up of hundreds of other communities, each enriching our canvases with a separate shade and medium, while further improving the Prozdor community. When walking through the cafeteria during break most of us discovered that our Prozdor friends were our USY or NFTY friends, our school friends, our shul friends and our camp friends all comprised one student body.
However, this year through the Moreshet Program, Prozdor turned it around and said, “Now it’s your time. Contribute to this wonderful community.” And through the TELEM Program, becoming teachers’ aids or becoming office assistants, we did. Those of us who were in the TELEM Program taught special needs kids Hebrew and Israeli songs. Those of us who were teachers’ aids learned new material, helped out in class and even taught a few periods. As an office assistant, I taught a class, learned how to use a copy machine, handed out Yom Rishon newsletters, worked the cash box selling snack during break, hug up tons of signs for room changes, and hiked up to the ANTS campus one too many times. On Tuesday nights, we gathered and created a different kind of community, because of the smaller and longer classes with more in-depth and personal discussions including my favorite on intermarriage, we bonded like never before. But in each class and each discussion the goal of the teacher was the same: to help us design our own communities in the future. For example, last week we learned the balance of conceptual understanding with fun activities including highs and lows.
In essence, we have learned to create communities for ourselves in the future. Instead of using only colors and textures handed to us throughout our lives, Prozdor has taught us to mix the paints and use different brush strokes on our canvases. So next year, wherever we go, whether it be Israel, college, university, or just chill for a year, we will have the ability to live our lives like a works of art; using our very own textures, hues and mediums. Thank you.