By Rachel Kalusin
For the Mitzpeh
On April 23 the MEOR Maimonides Leaders Fellowship had its graduation, during which students and mentors reflected on what they have gained from the program.
According to the MEOR Maryland’s website, the program educates students on Jewish texts and concepts every Wednesday for a semester. It offers students the ability to experience modern Judaism first-hand through attending an Orthodox Jewish wedding and a weekend away, or a shabbaton, with a Jewish family in Silver Spring, Maryland. After completing the program students receive a $300 stipend and diplomas at a graduation dinner.
Zach Slutsky, a sophomore economics major, said, “It was nice to look back from where we started and see how much myself and everyone has grown these past weeks.”
Students were encouraged to invite their families to the graduation in Potomac, Maryland. The graduation included food, such as sushi, and beverages. Students listened to their mentors and fellow classmates speak about what they gained from the program.
“I think this is a beautiful way to have the students share with their families the positive Jewish experiences they participated in and how it impacted them,” said MEOR assistant director Devora Jaye. “It also celebrates the students and their commitment to the program.”
Andrew Legum, a junior business management and entrepreneurship major, enjoyed hearing the weekly speeches, but enjoyed the shabbaton most of all.
The graduation made me think back to the Shabbaton we went on during beginning of the fellowship. It’s cool to think back to then and see how much I’ve learned through the program,” Legum said. “Meeting the host family for the Shabbaton was definitely the highlight of the program for me.”
The four program mentors, Rabbi Ari Koretzky, Devora Jaye, Rabbi Zalman Goldstein and Mariel Goldstein presented students with their diplomas, first saying something meaningful about the students.
Junior government and politics major Sani Nabatkhorian said the MEOR staff made a huge effort to really get to know its students.
“When they gave everyone their diplomas they said a one-minute introduction about us. It was nice seeing how much everyone really got to know each other from the Shabbaton and the weekly meetings,” said Nabatkhorian.
Sam Mallery, a junior landscape architecture major, said, “I liked the graduation because it was a nice closure to the program, although I really have gotten used to seeing these people each week so that will be a weird adjustment.”
Koretzky, the MEOR executive director, said “Every group is different and has its own special energy. This go-round blended a wonderful mix of personal enthusiasm and serious deliberation.”
Nabatkhorian said, “It was nice having the ceremony because we were able to say goodbye to people that we had been seeing every week that we won’t be seeing as often anymore. It was good closure.”