By Tali Laserson
Chapter President, Cleveland NCSY
I recently found myself longing for some extra inspiration. As magical as NCSY Shabbatons always are, it’s the times in-between where I begin to struggle. I began to ask myself: “How do I carry my inspiration and motivation over to the next Shabbaton?” Well, I realized that the answer was somewhere that I never thought I would find it.
Never did I think that as a Jewish day school girl I would want to squeeze some bonus learning into my free time. But I guess I thought wrong! It came to mind that maybe by learning with younger high schoolers who are not as involved in NCSY or who are also looking for some extra inspiration, I could find a way to keep my religious motivation. I decided that by putting a ten minute dose of inspiration into my morning, maybe then I would be an overall, more inspired Jew. So I began to think of freshman and sophomore girls that I could learn with on a weekly basis. I reached out to these girls and I began to learn for about ten minutes after davening with each of them. I was committed to this system because I knew that even just ten minutes of learning everyday was substantial.
One of the times I sat down to learn with one of my new chevrutas (learning partners), I saw that a sick woman in the community was sitting in her wheelchair in the same spot she sat in after davening every single day. Across the Beit Midrash, we saw her looking and smiling at us as we sat down and opened our book to learn. I wasn’t sure if she was just giving us her usual smile or if she wanted to join us in our learning. So I walked up to her and asked if she’d like to join us. She wheeled herself over and we began learning our usual book, “My Father, My King.” As we learned and her face lit up with happiness, it made me realize what a difference me and my chevruta had just made. When we finished, the woman began to rave about how much she loved the book we were learning. I couldn’t help but beam with pride and give my new chevrusa a big hug, obviously. Immediately after walking out of the Beit Midrash I began to search online for this book and my chevrusa and I ordered it for her.
All of this made me realize that had I never began to learn with my chevrusa I would have never been able to make such a difference in this woman’s day, this knowledge will change my life forever. All of this just by taking ten minutes out of my breakfast time to learn!
What I thought would just be a simple ten minutes of learning some mornings, turned into one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. I can not even describe in words how much I’ve grown since I started learning with girls younger than me. Before I started my learning I know that it would be worthwhile but I did not know what a brilliant advancement it would be.
I truly believe that learning with a younger highschooler for a little bit on a weekly basis is something that everyone can benefit from. By setting aside that small time and choosing a chevruta, everybody can be inspired and make a difference.
So, if you’re a high schooler longing for a few inspiring moments every morning, I suggest you look into this. It may seem insignificant but believe me when I tell you that it is one of the easiest, most impactful moves you can make. I am so glad that I decided to take this step and I know that if more people where to take this step it could change the entire dynamic of our school and our community.