At Central Synagogue

Reflections from Central Synagogue Teens on their Trip to Rome

Posted February 27, 2019

This month, some of the LCLJ teens recently traveled to Rome with their Central Confirmation Class. The students learned about the long roots history of Judaism in the region, while also interacting with Jewish teenagers living in Rome. In between visits to the Vatican, the Coliseum, and a special pizza-making workshop, the teens gained a deeper sense of history and a connection to Jews across the globe.Read their reflections, about how they discovered Jewish life in the Italian city.

Student Reflections

Although I have always followed Jewish traditions and celebrated Jewish holidays with my family, Judaism never really played a huge role in my daily life until this trip/this year. After talking with the kids who go to the Jewish school and walking through the Jewish ghetto today, I realized that kids my age are practicing Judaism more often than I expected, sometimes in ways that I’m not really used to practicing back home. I feel a new sense of pride being a Jew, I think due to the experience of witnessing a place where Jews were persecuted and are still in the minority, compared to NYC where I am constantly surrounded by Jewish people. Even though I knew some of the history of Jews before this trip, seeing the ruins in person and physically being in such a historically significant place really put the things that I learned in perspective with so much more value than they previously had.
- Julia F.

When I return home I will bring back a furthered understanding of just how widespread Judaism and Jewish prayer is. Although I was aware of it beforehand, I don’t think I fully understood and appreciated the extent of Judaism’s reach in the world. Today I am in Rome with people who don’t speak my language but with whom I can sing prayers with altogether. There’s something powerful in being able to meet a stranger that’s so geographically and societally detached from myself but having a common culture uniting us. I’ve never experienced anything like it before and will hold onto that idea when I’m back praying in Central. It’s so cool to know that halfway across the world, other Jews are sitting in their synagogue singing the same prayers.
- Antonia K.

This trip has made an impact on me and who I am as a Jew. I’ve enjoyed the layout of this trip because it started off with learning about our past as Jews in Rome and the hardships our ancestors faced and it ended with today, my favorite day, going to a Jewish school in the Jewish ghetto and learning about their values. After talking with the students, I realized that we have a lot of core values in common. It is so interesting to me that even though they live in Rome and I live in New York, the core beliefs of who we are as Jews is similar. This trip has widened my lens on Jewish history, both past and present. Before going on this trip, I knew the menorah was a significant symbol in the Jewish religion but I never how much it impacted our religion. From the columns in the Ostia to the Great Synagogue, everyone we have traveled and visited in Rome, there is a menorah carved into the structure.
- Julie S.

One piece of Jewish history I will take with me the direction our synagogue faces. I never noticed our modern synagogues face Jerusalem and before that, the temple. It was interesting to visit a synagogue built even before the first temple was even built as they had no recollection of what events were to come that we are all aware of today. I would want the future people to know our music at central. I wouldn’t want them to think our prayer services were boring because they are quite the opposite. I hope they would discover instruments such as the flute, piano, or guitar. Which may seem modern now, in 500 years they may be ancient. I would also want them to discover our cultural and educational groups. I think that it’s important to see how many programs we have, as I have spent every year of my life here at central, and that is something that has really shaped me.
- Maya F.

Click here to read more student reflections.