Last night I stood among 800 people graduating from Bar Ilan’s social sciences programs. Some men, some women, some single, some married, some Jewish, some Arab, some native born Israelis, and some olim. We all sat together listening to a perek of tehilim, boring graduation speeches, and a couple of Jewish songs. Then we all stood and were pronounced graduates and sang hatikva. This was a very emotional experience for a number of reasons- both on a personal level for me and on a national level.
On a personal level this ceremony represented four long years of hard work. Four long years of struggling through hebrew lectures and articles. Four long years of failing exams and rewriting assignments. Four years of leaning on family, friends, and classmates for support and help. Four years of feeling dependent on others and dealing with how inadequate that made me feel. Four years of hard work and tears. I wasn’t used to struggling academically- school had never been hard for me. I certainly wasn’t used to not being able to simply follow a lecture. But I worked hard, retook tests, and redid courses.And I made it to the end. I did not do it alone, though. My classmates gave me their notes, proofread my papers, and studied with me. My family and friends gave me unending and unconditional emotional support. I could not have made it through those four years without these people and their help. I was incredibly proud to be able to stand with my fellow graduates, get my degree, and show that my hard work (and theirs) paid off.
On a national level it was an incredibly emotional experience to have my college graduation ceremony be in hebrew- featuring tehillim, Jewish songs, and the Israeli national anthem. It was amazing to be surrounded by the diverse crowd of graduates and their families. I felt like a part of the Jewish nation and Jewish history. I stood next to my Israeli friend- who probably wasn’t thinking about any of these things- and cried a little during hatikva. I took a moment to appreciate the stage of Jewish history I’m in and imagine how different this experience will be for my (Be’ezrat Hashem) Israeli born native children.
I am amazingly grateful for my four years of Bar Ilan and amazingly hopeful for the future. I don’t know exactly what the next few years will bring. I’m sure some of it will be hard and miserable and some of it will be amazing and fulfilling. I’m sure I will once again struggle through some of it and that some of it will bring me unending joy. I trust that Hashem will continue guiding me along the right path and that my family and friends will be there to keep me on it. And I hope to make Israel and the Jewish nation just a little bit better. Mazal tov to all my fellow graduates and good luck to us all in our next stage of life!