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"Thank you, MMY!"

by Ashira Greenberg (MMY, 5773)

My name is Ashira and I just got back from my Shana Aleph year at MMY. I had many great experiences and gained tremendously from my time in Israel. As I look back on the year, I cannot help but reflect on the process that brought me to this point. The thought of a year in seminary started off as a dream. Like many girls nowadays, I went to a high school where spending a year in Israel was strongly encouraged.  A significant percent of my high school class was going to be going to Israel for a year of learning, and I wanted to go as well. Like many other teens, I want to “fit in” and do what is considered “normal.”  But unlike many other teens, I have cerebral palsy.  

ashira pic
Cerebral palsy is a condition that hinders my ability to move properly due to damage in part of my brain.  I mainly use a walker to get around and have some trouble with my left arm.  Baruch Hashem I have been in mainstream environments since kindergarten but a year of seminary in Israel is a whole different league. My parents and I knew that I would face unique challenges during the year because of my physical situation (in addition to some of the more typical challenges of being in seminary). We tried to prepare me for seminary and increase my level of independence as much as possible, but we knew that spending the year in Israel would be somewhat complicated.  

I was nervous that the complications would stop me from having the great experience that other girls enjoy in seminary. I did not know how I would handle being away from my family for such an extended period of time and I was nervous about the thought of having to rely on people that I barely knew.  I was nervous that the people around me would not be able to relate to me without making me uncomfortable because of my disability.  I wondered what I would do roughly 6,000 miles away from my comfort zone if seminary did not work out?

Before I was formally accepted, we went to visit MMY multiple times (to make sure that the school would be an appropriate place for me) and had meetings with the administrators to go over each piece of my experience. The MMY administrators were extremely patient and understanding.  They did not pressure me to make a decision until I was comfortable.  They were available to talk about my reservations and reassure me of their commitment to making the year a positive and smooth experience. Though I was very apprehensive about actually taking the leap and going to seminary, I had a tremendous amount of support and was confident that the year in Israel had the potential to be a wonderful experience.

I trusted that MMY attracts girls with whom I could identify because I have many friends who had gone to MMY in previous years.  All of my friends were extremely encouraging and gave so much of their time to help me feel comfortable about committing to MMY.  Thank you! Finally a decision was made. I was going to try and achieve this dream. I was going to MMY.

MMY was amazing! The support that I received from everyone there was a key to enabling me to get so much out of my seminary experience. People did not make my physical situation as a big deal or see my walker as something that defines my identity.  
I benefitted so much from my time in MMY. I learned so much from the knowledgeable and caring staff who, despite differences in Hashkafic perspectives/ lifestyles, are all seriously committed to a life of sincere Avodat Hashem.  I gained so much from seeing the staff interact and debate issues while still maintaining a deep respect for each other – despite differences of opinion.

I also had the pleasure of living in Eretz Yisrael and being able to connect to the land on a deeper level. I enjoyed being able to get a taste of regular daily life in Israel and experience what our ancestors considered to be a dream.  I am thankful for having had the opportunity to Daven at the Kotel so easily accessible (only about 40 minutes away – and thank you to everyone who pushed my wheelchair – especially on Har Tzion) and experience other religious/spiritual perks of living in the Holy Land.
A special thank you to all of the girls of the MMY 5773! I know that I thanked you via email, but I could not resist a more public shout-out. I am so happy that I got to know, learn from and learn with each one of you!  I hope that you are doing well, and I wish all the best in all areas of life – always!

So, to end off as I began, "Thank you, MMY 5773!"

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