On May 15, at our annual Siyum, 29 graduates of TALIT Nation @ the Bureau marked their completion of the program. Nearly 200 TALIT Nation students and community members celebrated this significant moment together.
Often in Jewish education, success is measured solely by numbers. It is easy to become fixated on how many are enrolled in a program and harder to measure a program’s impact on the people it serves. This has been a banner year for TALIT Nation @ the Bureau. We served over 820 Orange County teens and youth in the last year, the most in our 35-year history. As wonderful as that statistic is, it would mean nothing if the programs did not have the ability to cultivate the Jewish identities of the participants.
All of the graduates at Siyum wrote an “ethical will” containing unedited words and feelings about the impact and relevance of the TALIT Nation program. Below are a few excerpts. I want to thank the Bureau’s board of directors, organizational partners, staff and, most importantly, the graduates and their parents. I hope that, as you read the words below, you will share with me in feeling the “nachus” that comes from our graduates.
Omer David – “For 5 years from fourth to ninth grade I did not have a lot of Jewish friends. The only Jewish activity I would engage in was Rosh Hashanah and Passover dinners. Then, in tenth grade, came an opportunity to join Talit, something that has completely changed my life. I’ll be honest; I joined because of a girl, but that did not stop me from making countless Jewish friends and finally connecting with my Jewish identity. Talit completely changed the way I view Judaism. Before I joined not everyone knew that I was Jewish; Talit helped me be proud of my Jewish culture and heritage. I now have more Jewish friends than anything else, and the bonds I have made on the weekends and other Bureau events I will take with me forever.”
Jeramie Gipoor – “Talit has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. The people and the programs have shaped me into the person I am today. The friendships I have made here will last me a lifetime. The friends that I have made are some of my best friends. One of the things I have taken away from Talit is Jewish pride. Talit taught me how to be a proud Jew. It showed me all the fun and joy that can be had when people with a common background get together and learn more about each other.”
Elyse Inselberg – “Over the next few years, the memories only got better; from the Havdalah circles on Saturday nights, our weekend socials and the closing circle at the end of each weekend. Before I knew it, I was going on a trip to Israel with so many people I got to be with throughout these weekends. The TIES trip made the best memories of my life. Spending a month away from home without our parents and everyone being around the same age was perfect. I met girls that I call my sisters to this day. We made connections that would have never happened without TALIT and the amazing staff.”
Emily Nagel – “I can’t remember everything that has happened throughout the past 4 years, but a few things stick out in my mind. For example, taking a hike in the dark to lie out in a field to gaze at the stars, going to a ropes course and swinging from a zip line, figuring out that camp food is delicious and meeting all these different people from different places in Southern California are things that I won’t ever forget and during every unit time, or prayer session, there was real power in the words people spoke, and I loved how there was a place where I could feel profound and feel like I was learning something and a part of something bigger.”
Melinda Telford – “I don’t know of any other youth program that is so dedicated to listening to its participants and striving to make itself better. As far as I was concerned, the program was fine to begin with when I started four years ago. But fine doesn’t cut it for TALIT. It seems like every year, the program changed, and this has kept the program incredibly fresh for me and has given me reason to actually participate. Usually when programs ask for suggestions on changes, they take years to materialize, if they are even considered at all. But TALIT is truly set on bettering itself at every possible opportunity and that is why I love it.
Mazal tov to the TALIT Nation Class of 5771