Community – What It Means to Me to Be Part of this Temple and Part of the Jewish People by Jesse Persily


Temple Rodeph Torah has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, from long before Hebrew school began up until today. I am honored to stand before you as a Confirmand, and I am proud to say that I am a member of this amazing religious community. Through all the time I have spent at the temple, whether for services, carnivals, various youth group events, or my religious studies, I’ve truly been able to discover my own Jewish identity with the help of the bonds I have made over the years.. Whether in need of comfort and support during tough times, or simply in need of people to speak to, the temple has really become my home away from home, and its members have become my second family. As a testament to this, when I lost each of my grandfathers, the caring members of the TRT community filled my house during the nights of shiva.
While the temple itself has played a huge role in my life in general, it has also helped me attain a greater personal connection to the Jewish people. Now of course, I would technically be Jewish regardless of whether I belonged to a temple or not. But along these lines, I feel an enhanced connection to my Jewish faith thanks to this temple and all that my years of religious school have taught me.
But what exactly is this connection I’ve found with the Jewish people? I’ve discovered that I am part of a group of people who have overcome slavery, oppression, and genocide, and have remained faithful to God through some of the roughest patches of human history. We Jews have  fought and persevered through so many struggles, and have withstood the worst kind of religious persecution, while still managing to remain a strong religious presence in the world.  To say that I am proud to be a member of the Jewish people would be quite the understatement, because I am much more than proud. I am thankful, but not only that I am part of a people who have lived through such hardship, and still strive to fix the world, but thankful that this religion has guided me on my journey through life thus far. I am confident that it will continue to guide me in the years to come.
When my parents began their search for a Jewish center, my mother hoped to find the kind of supportive and comfortable community that her parents raised her in. I am thankful that their search led us to Rodeph Torah, where I am free to question and offer my own opinions. I have always been quite inquisitive, and the open-minded environment of the temple has provided me with a place to learn and grow. I am extremely vocal about my views on Reform Judaism and it is clear to all who know me that both our temple and the Jewish people have played a pivotal role in my life. My deep connection to my faith and to TRT has helped to define the man I am becoming.