Reb Yaakov Boyd

“After growing up in South Carolina, I went to an Evangelical boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At that time, I had no real connection to Judaism, and I really wasn’t very interested in my heritage. One day, my roommate asked me if I was Jewish, and the answer to this question changed my whole high school experience. I was smart enough to not play up my Judaism, but without thinking about the major repercussions of my response, I simply responded with a yes. By the next day, my situation changed drastically. The kids in the school cut the lock off my locker room and destroyed my clothes, they placed demoralizing signs on my door to intimidate me, and worst of all, I lost friends – just for being Jewish. All of this got me wondering why those students hated me being Jewish, even without being tied to Judaism. After I started learning about Judaism, I began to fall in love with it. By the time I reached college, I identified as a Modern Orthodox Jew. I pursued Judaism with this passion, but I thought that this came at a price of my intellectual college career. In reality, after I finished college and went to Yeshiva, I learned that the opposite was true. I not only kept that intellectual side, but found the most profound form of intellectualism ever in Judaism. By discovering who I was as a Jew, I didn’t lose my identity, but gained a certain sense of significance. Being Jewish isn’t important for the mere fact that we are born Jewish, but because learning about our Judaism makes us more of who we actually are.”

-Reb Yaakov Boyd, Upper School Judaics and History Teacher

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