Thursday, July 09, 2020

We at The Jewish Link are proud of so many things about our community. We wouldn’t work here if we weren’t interested in championing our community institutions, if we didn’t want to highlight our successes, share our strengths and celebrate our solid gold children. Mourning our community’s losses comes with our roles as well, and from these experiences, such as the loss of Gary Turkel z”l this past week, our emunah is tested. But we choose communal support over mourning privately in sad times as well, and perhaps we also learn to hold our dear ones a little tighter and celebrate passages more vibrantly, when we face such devastating sadness.

In sharp contrast, this time of year is replete with beautiful Facebook photos of be-capped and be-gowned young people smiling broadly, their arms around one another. We never get tired of typing out another “Mazel Tov!” and telling everyone how nice they looked, and how big they have grown. It’s even better to take a son or daughter out for lunch or dinner and tell them how proud we are of all that they have accomplished, of all that they are and will become.

One graduate in particular this year is one who we at The Link will miss very much. Oren Oppenheim, of Fair Lawn, began writing a weekly column for us two years ago, when he was a 16-year-old student at Ramaz. We have laughed with him as he shared stories from his “A Teen’s Perspective” column, and cried and marveled at how well he could distill and crystallize events that have broken our hearts as a Jewish community. He wrote stirringly of “our boys,” Naftali, Gilad and Shachar, and more recently, about the terror attacks in Paris. We are proud for our part in recognizing his talent, and in pushing him to do more. We are also extremely proud of how much he has developed as a writer over the time we have edited his work.

This week we shepp nachas that as he graduated from Ramaz, Oren received the school’s Rifka Rosenwein Journalism Award. Rosenwein (Ramaz ’79) went on to study at Michalah, Barnard and Harvard. The award description: “Her passion and talent for writing took a parallel course from the Rampage [Ramaz student newspaper] to The Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Week. She wrote as she lived, with a profound commitment to Torah, family, knowledge and understanding. The award is granted to that senior who best reflects Rifka’s midot, her commitment to a year of study in Israel and excellence in journalism and writing.”

Ms. Litwack mentored Oren in creative writing, and Dr. Milowitz mentored him for journalism. We congratulate them as well and thank Ramaz for “sharing” Oren with us.

Oren is headed to Israel this fall to Yeshivat Orayta and to The University of Chicago, class of 2021. We congratulate him as well as his parents, Stuart and Joanne, and the other two thirds of his “triplet threat,” Aliza and Zachary.

We hope to bring our readers more of Oren’s work this summer and we hope he will be able to tear himself away from his studies next year in Israel to send us an occasional report as well. We also hope that The Jewish Link will be the first of many of Oren’s publication venues.

With our very fondest wishes, mazel tov to Oren and to all our wonderful graduates.