Hey Alma: I Never Thought About Being Jewish Until I Left New York

July 13, 2022

Read this terrific article in Hey Alma by Religious School teacher Sophia Garcia Maier about her Sephardic heritage, and how her experience on our Lifelong Learning faculty has been a meaningful part of her Jewish Journey.

“I am a New York Jew, the Jewish daughter of two unabashed New Yorkers, and I grew up in a Jewish and Catholic suburb in Orange County, New York, where I got my holidays off and was part of a middle school “Jew Crew.” I stayed in New York for college, moving to the Bronx and devoting my academic time to studying New York’s Jewish history. I also taught at Temple Emanu-El, the city’s shining jewel of a synagogue. In college, I remained immersed in the Jewish community which had taken me in as a student and an educator, and kept me grounded when other aspects of my life became unmoored. Living on my own in my Bronx apartment, I felt more connected to my religion than ever. As I lit my menorah in the winter, I thought about the one, two, even three generations of Jews before me who would have, just blocks away from where I lived, been muttering the same words, feeling the same light. I felt, to paraphrase the great Paul Rudd, that I was not only practicing Judaism — I had perfected it.”