A Passover Message from Maayan Schoen

A Passover Message from Maayan Schoen

Members of the extended Atlanta Jewish community expresses their thoughts about the 2023 Passover holiday, using the prompt, "Unity Creates Community."

Maayan Schoen is a senior at Atlanta Jewish Academy.

Mayaan Schoen
Mayaan Schoen

Unity Creates Community

As I approach my college graduation this May and think about my next steps, I’m spending a lot of time considering the sort of community that I eventually want to live in.

My dream is to move to Israel, but there are a few things that make me hesitate. One is that I don’t know if I’ll be able to recreate for my children the experience of community that I so valued living here.

Our Jewish community in Atlanta was a unique place to grow up. I know that not everyone had the integrated experience that I did, but I don’t think that there are so many other places where my family could have (almost) seamlessly been part of Jewish institutions with such different hashkafas (religious worldviews) or where I could count people with widely ranging Jewish backgrounds as my close friends.

My parents taught me how to appreciate the lessons I learned from teachers and friends at school, shul, and camp while acknowledging the ways that any of them might have differed slightly from our family values and practices. They taught me how to see what we have in common more than what makes us different. To me, this was an attitude of unity — and it created community.

I’m hoping that Israel will present even more opportunities for a rich communal experience. But it sometimes seems that harsher divisions there — e.g., over army service — preclude the kind of unity I experienced here. Even in New York, where enough Jewish institutions exist for everyone to have exactly the flavor of Jewish experience that they want without mixing with anyone else, the Atlanta experience can be a foreign concept.

I can tell my children about how to love and appreciate people who are different from us, but that is not as good as modeling friendship and community-making with people who are different from us. Hopefully, wherever I go, I can bring a little bit of the Atlanta spirit with me.

Thank you for teaching me these values and for being my community!

Maayan Schoen graduated from Torah Day School and Atlanta Jewish Academy and studied in the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women in Israel, and is currently a senior at Yale University.

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