When Sarah Griffith arrived to Schechter Westchester High School, her Judaic knowledge was pretty limited. Growing up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a city with few Jews, helped Sarah realize how important it is to have pride in her Jewish identity and learn as much as she could.
While attending New Rochelle public school, her family learned about the Akiva Merit Scholarship at Schechter Westchester, a program based on the idea that it is never too late to start a Jewish Day School education. Sarah applied and was awarded the scholarship that provided her with the opportunity to seamlessly transition into Schechter Westchester. Her acclamation at Schechter included being the Hebrew speaker at graduation and a pioneering WISE project.
Around the same time, Sarah heard an Israeli soldier speak at her synagogue about Garin Tzabar, a program of the IDF and Nefesh B’Nefesh, which guides lone soldiers and heavily supports the process of adapting to military service and to an independent lifestyle in Israel.
These days Sarah has continued on to the next stage of her life. Following her graduation from Schechter Westchester, Sarah made Aliyah and joined Garin Tzabar. Shortly after, she enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and participated in a tekes hashba'a – swearing in ceremony – this past fall. She is stationed south of Be’er Sheva while she works toward completing combat soldier training in the artillery corps.
During a recent break from her training, Sarah returned to the United States and gave some substitute Hebrew instruction at Schechter Westchester High School, something she was excited to be able to do since she was so profoundly impacted by her individual Hebrew and Israel studies while at Schechter. In addition to her experience in Lev v’Nefesh, the senior class Poland and Israel encounter, she was positively impacted by watching former seniors graduate and travel to Israel. Sarah is considering studying engineering at an Israeli university when she completes her army service and continues to draw upon her Schechter Westchester experience as she continues to adapt to life in Israel.