Author: Ariel Margolis
Published Date: July 15, 2017
Here is my charge to the high school graduates of Hebrew College’s High-School program.
Change is hard. Now buck up and pass the potatoes.”
Please raise your hand if you have ever heard this phrase (or something similar) from an adult? (pause) Thank you to those who are honest. The rest of you are either fibbers or are focused on the potatoes.
When I was your age, I had heard that phrase many times (minus the potatoes). The first time I remember hearing it and having it stick long enough to become a memory was when my mother went back to work full time and dinners became… quite moribund. We had what was dubbed the “black pot special of death.” It consisted of my mother taking a black pot, frying up potatoes and onions and then emptying the refrigerator of whatever she could find. The result was a grey concoction with the consistency of gelatin with hints of what I assume were various members of the animal kingdom. After the 4th pot, I went on strike (my sister, [and to quote Norm Finkelstein again, my sister who is an only child] my sister didn’t go on strike. She just grabbed a yogurt and walked away]. I exclaimed to my mother that we shouldn’t have to eat like this. The look my mother gave me is permanently seared into my visual cortex. And the words she used… well, when you’re older I will tell you. I don’t want to shock your innocent ears.
As I look back, and as I have children of my own, I understand that what I was really kvetching about was the change. Having my mom go back to work was a change. It was hard to accept.
Change is hard. You all know this for there is a lot changing in your lives. You are moving on to your next chapter in life as you enter your college years. No longer will your parental units be tucking you in, folding your laundry, or making you dinner. That’s up to you.
Yet, you experienced much change during your Prozdor years. Some of you started here in Makor, and then joined Prozdor when the school was a bit bigger. Today, Prozdor has changed. Not just in size but in what it offers: an Israel trip with a social service component; an opportunity to learn to become a philanthropist; online learning courses in leadership and soon Hebrew. You experienced those changes and guess what? You made it.
How? By realizing that the one constant in this Universe is change. Change happens whether we like it or not. Programs change. People change. Dinners change. In the Talmud it states, “If you wish to know how much preferable wisdom is to gold, then observe: if you change gold you get silver for it, but your gold is gone; but if you exchange one sort of wisdom for another, you obtain fresh knowledge, and at the same time keep what you possessed before.”
The rabbis were smart in that they knew knowledge and understanding created new learning opportunities. That is what your teachers here at Prozdor offered you. They pushed your thinking. And the new programs pushed the way you saw Israel and your ability to facilitate change in this world.
So, with the new knowledge that you each possess, you are ready for change. You are ready for what’s in store for you. You are ready to make that new dish for dinner. By the way, the result of my complaining to my mother about dinners led me to have to cook dinners for my family, which led me to my passion for cooking. Though, the first dinner I made was chicken cacciatore… in the microwave. The only difference between what I made and the black pot special was that mine took half the time. And my sister again left the table and grabbed a yogurt.
I guess some things don’t change.
Class of 2017, as you prepare for what lies ahead of you, embrace the changes that come before you. Some will be hard to take on. But your teachers and I have confidence in you.
Take care of yourselves physically and emotionally. Know that your teachers at Prozdor, your parents and all who are here are proud of your accomplishments and will eagerly await to hear about your latest adventures. And remember, say please when you ask someone to pass the potatoes.
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