What Prozdor Means to Me

Ben Gladstone
Prozdor Senior
May 29, 2013

Ben GladstoneWhen I first came to Prozdor, I knew that I wanted to think critically about Judaism, but I had no one to talk about it with. My shul is great, but there weren’t a lot of teenagers there and I never got into any youth groups. Prozdor gave me what I had been missing: people who understood me. People I could discuss Judaism with on a serious level. 

I also knew that I wanted to form a serious religious identity that worked for me. That meant accepting some parts of Judaism and rejecting others. It’s been a complicated process, but I think I’ve finally got it right. I’m now comfortable with the way that I relate to God, my fellow Jews and the rest of the world. My time at Prozdor has guided me as I struggled with the difficult aspects of religion, helped me to take pride in the most special parts of Judiasm and given me a fulfilling Jewish identity.

In Prozdor, some of my friends are Orthodox, some are Conservative and some Reform. Some are American and some Israeli. Some are Democrats and, yes, some are Republicans, too. It’s awesome that they come from all over the spectrum. Prozdor gave me a community of kids from all different of backgrounds to talk to about Jewish issues, but also to be my friends for life.

Before Prozdor, I knew that I was passionate about Israel, but I didn’t have enough background to effectively advocate for my Jewish homeland. Prozdor gave me the opportunity to visit Israel, where I made friends and developed an understanding of both the history and the culture. I was able to connect with the physical land in a way that I hadn’t before, and I learned the situation through the eyes of the people who live it every day.

I came back from the Pirkei Dorot Israel trip freshman year full of questions that would be answered through my classes in Boston, and full of excitement that I would channel into developing my own organization, Liberals for Israel. Liberals for Israel could never exist without the support of the Prozdor staff and, even more importantly, the Prozdor students who have become the most active members. I never would have been able to find a pool of teenagers so passionate and engaged anywhere else.

Not only did Prozdor teach me what I was advocating for and provide me with a group of fellow activists, but it also introduced me to AIPAC, which taught me how to lobby and how to advocate with impact. I’m able to fight for my cause now, supporting Israel through a liberal lens, using the tools that AIPAC and Prozdor have provided for me.

I’d like to thank Prozdor for making sure that should I ever become lost, I’ll always be sure of who I am and what I stand for. Thank you for helping me to formulate the principles by which I live my life, and for providing me with friends that I know I’ll keep forever.