Darbie Sokolow is studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem. She grew up in Englewood and attended Ramaz. Her family davens at Congregation Ahavat Torah and the East Hill Synagogue. In the summers she’s attended Camp Seneca Lake, where she worked as a counselor this past summer.
Her next stop? New York University, where she’s strongly considering studying business.
Why did you choose to study at Lindenbaum?
I chose to experience my shana ba’Aretz at Midreshet Lindenbaum for many reasons. First, I was immediately attracted to the high level of learning of the classes offered at Lindenbaum. Not only do we have the privilege of learning from amazing teachers, but we’re also given a tremendous amount of time in the beit midrash to learn b’chavruta, enabling us to improve our learning skills and gain the tools needed to learn on our own. The overseas program isn’t the only program at Midreshet Lindenbaum; there’s also an Israeli program, a South American program, and a program for students with special needs called Darkeynu. These programs really caught my eye because I was interested in branching out and making new friends from across the globe. I currently have a chavruta once a week with a member in each program. After only three short months of being here, I can already say that I definitely feel like I’m in the right place.
What kind of goals do you have for the year?
I had three main goals going into the year, each one being different from the other. Being raised my entire life as a Modern Orthodox Jewish girl, it was extremely important to me to know the reasoning behind everything I was doing in my day-to-day Jewish life. This goal has become a reality thanks to my classes at Lindenbaum, chavrutot with my brilliant teachers, as well as some extra learning done on my own. At the same time, I wanted to make time for chesed outside of my regular learning schedule. I fulfilled this goal by volunteering at the Shalva center followed by Zichron Menachem every Tuesday afternoon, a time slot allotted for optional chesed. It was also a priority of mine to make new friends while still maintaining my old ones.
What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?
The most inspiring moment of my year so far was definitely selichot at Midreshet Lindenbaum. Every night of aseret yemei teshuva, all of the different programs at Lindenbuam come together and sing and dance for hours.
What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?
My biggest difficulty this year is being away from my parents. This is something that many girls in seminary struggle with, but since I’m an only child I consider myself to be much closer with my parents than the average teenager. Luckily, I have a lot of family in Israel, so I’m in very good hands.
How has your year been different from your expectations?
Having been to Israel many times before, I felt very prepared for spending my year in Israel and luckily did not experience culture shock like some girls do. However, my biggest adjustment has definitely been sitting in much longer classes than on an average high school schedule, some even lasting up to three hours.
Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?
So far, my favorite place to go for Shabbat is Ra’anana. Being surrounded by close friends, other Americans and English speakers like myself, as well as Israelis, I feel very much at home. However, I still think it’s really important to visit new places in order to get the full Israel experience.
Who is a teacher at Lindenbaum you connect to especially well?
I especially connect to Rabbanit Sally Mayer, our rosh midrasha. Not only is she extremely learned and an incredible teacher, but she’s also such a warm, loving and approachable person who makes all of her students feel cared for and at home. Rabbanit Sally even takes time out of her busy schedule to have a chavruta with me once a week, on top of the Individual Spiritual Program meetings we have every two weeks.
Which is one of your favorite classes at Lindenbaum?
One of my favorite classes is Pirkei Avot. I find learning about ethics and interpersonal relationships very practical, relatable and extremely important as I take my next steps into the adult world.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I’m really looking forward to spending the rest of the chagim here in Israel. Spending Sukkot in Israel was very meaningful because that was when I began to connect both spiritually and physically to the Land of Israel (and it was pretty awesome to see sukkot pop up all over the country!). I’ve even decided to stay in Israel for Pesach because of how spiritually uplifting spending the chagim here is.
By JLNJ Staff