Though born in Russia, I spent my first years in Israel and moved to the United States at age five. We settled in Columbus, Ohio and adjusted to the American lifestyle. Though I always knew we were Jewish, my family was influenced much more by Russian culture. We neither celebrated the holidays at home, nor did we attend synagogue. The extent of my Jewish connection was an occasional Yiddish song sung in my Russian choir class.
At Brandeis University, I heard about MEOR through a friend during a time when I was seeking spiritual direction. Rabbi Gould invited me to sit in on a class; my interest was piqued and I enrolled for the next semester. I enjoyed every moment of MEOR Maimonides and continued learning through Maimonides II. I also met weekly with Rabbi Gould until my graduation.
My MEOR experience was overwhelmingly positive. Through my classes with MEOR I entered the rigorous depths of Jewish knowledge that the Jewish sages attained over many millennia. I gained a Jewish foundation and insight into leading a Jewish life. The wealth of scholarship which I accessed was beyond my wildest expectations.
In the summer of 2014, I traveled to Israel with MEOR. The mix of fun, Jewish experiences, and in-depth learning showed me the expansive nature of Jewish thought and gave me even greater context for my Judaism. My most memorable moment from the trip was celebrating Shavuot. Together with hundreds of MEOR Israel students, I learned Torah late into the night in the Old City of Jerusalem, just opposite the Western Wall. The ability to spend the full night learning about and celebrating my Judaism with hundreds of others is something I will always carry with me.
I credit MEOR with almost single-handedly sparking my profound interest in Jewish learning, which I continue to explore daily.
Class of 2016 BA in Russian Studies, Near East and Judaic Studies, and History