By Helaine Bach, Participant in the Torah Corps Major
When I registered for Kutz back in December, it seemed extremely surreal. I couldn’t wait to see for myself if everything I had heard was true. Would I really find G-d looking out from the Teatron during services? Would my bunkmate become my best friend in the whole world? Would I call Kutz home some day, like so many of my friends? Before I was able to come to Kutz and find answers to all of these questions, I had a few decisions to make – the most important of which being which major I would spend my time exploring this summer.
When I checked the box for Torah Corps all those months ago, I had no idea how important it would be to my time here. In Torah Corps, we always joke about how awful it is to always be arguing. We pretend that we hate disagreement, groaning whenever our teacher announces a particularly controversial topic for the day, but we all know the truth – we love it. This group thrives on the difference of opinions, the passionate views, and the sometimes overwhelming enthusiasm with which we can discuss a topic. The fifteen of us have become a big, happy family over the last three weeks. If you pass by the library during major time at Kutz, it’s not uncommon to hear raised voices, thunderous laughter, or even the occasional Klezmer music played by our teacher David to regroup us after a break.
David has been able to offer us such an interesting perspective on all that we have studied this summer. He is here at Kutz for the summer from his hometown of Prague, in the Czech Republic. While it’s funny to hear his outlandish stories of Czech Rabbis gone rogue or watch him imitate prim and proper Jews in Prague before prayer – sitting with their legs crossed, staring straight ahead and not talking to anyone – he has also given us amazing insight into the difference in Reform Judaism in the United States and it’s counterparts in the rest of the world. His thick accent was a little difficult to decipher, but we worked as a team and were able to communicate about a large array of topics, ranging from the relationship between body and soul to Jewish perspectives surrounding the environment (a particular heated discussion). David was a fearless leader for the amazing group of individuals who make up Torah Corps 2013. We are fifteen crazy Jews with at least thirty different opinions on any given topic.
Not only have I learned more than I could ever imagine. I have also had my ideals and views challenged. The best discussions happen when the participants are willing to be flexible and learn from one another. If you spend the whole time defending the position you start with, you never listen to the other side and you come out completely unchanged. I have opened myself up to this idea of flexibility and in turn have come out of Torah Corps a changed person. Torah Corps is exactly what I needed this summer. I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing group with so, so many great opinions.