Hillel is home. That has been the cliche that almost all students have heard since the moment they arrive on Scheck Hillel’s campus. At first I didn’t believe it; it seemed silly that a school, a place of education, and classrooms, along with a lack of blood relatives, could be ‘home.’ But I could never be more wrong.
It has been my home since I was 18 months old all the way through this year, my senior year. And it’s the same case for many of my peers. I remember most of my teachers and how they treated me with respect and positivity, always providing me with an opportunity to learn, but for a while, it didn’t seem that Hillel was offering me anything aside from the ordinary (besides a unique Judaic, Hebrew, & Israeli background, of course).
My moment of immense reflection came on Saturday night, February 15th, when the Varsity Boys Soccer team tragically lost 1-0 at home. A 90th-minute goal shattered everyone’s hearts, along with my senior friends on the side. When the referee blew the game dead, the team broke down into tears, as did a few fans and parents in the stands. But unlike most other sports events where the fans take an early exit to go yell in the car and deal with the pain at home alone, our crowd stayed. We stayed to respect the team, support them through the aftermath of the situation, and give them a communal shoulder to lean or cry on. Many remained on the stands in disbelief, but clapped for the players as they stood up to make it back to the locker room. Others made their way to the ground, finding a player to comfort or to shower them with words of kindness and encouragement as they walked off the field. It was a showing of compassion and community like I had never seen before. And that’s when it hit me that Hillel was unlike any other place.
As I leave this tremendous school for the outstanding future I hope lies ahead of me, I wrote this piece to destroy any misconception about Hillel not being the right place. The values of community, respect, and kindness that this school shares and promotes are hard to find. I know that my peers and I will return from wherever they are as well, whether its university, a gap year in Israel, or even the IDF. Even if it’s to catch up with faculty, inspire younger students, or also take a walk around the buildings and sit at the high school circle, we will return, because as the quote goes: “It’s so good to be home.”