Yelena’s submission

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YelenaJudaism is my life’s compass. It impacts my decisions on everything from philanthropy and ethical issues to family, friends, and celebration. I was born in Ukraine, where my family was surrounded by religious persecution and never truly comfortable with publicly being Jewish. Though I was always told I was Jewish, I did not grow up with a sense of Judaism. Since becoming involved in the DC Jewish community, helping with fundraising, and the creation of several community events, I have found a home within Judaism. I have connected to people and history that impacts my everyday life. My sense of right and wrong, my morals, and sense of social responsibility all have roots in my faith and its teachings. Judaism leads me, while still allowing me to grow and learn on my own. It is not just a culture or a religion nor is there a “right” or “good” way to be Jewish. That I feel is very important. I have learned that Judaism is there to guide and teach, whatever that may mean to each individual person. I feel proud and a better person for turning to Judaism to guide me, all the same time knowing, there is many moments that it will not give me the answer, but rather force me to find it myself. In those moments, even more so, the moral foundation Judaism has provided me guides and directs me in life.