Olivia's Speech

 

 

Olivia Rose Felson

 

Olivia Felson - Graduation Address - June 10, 2020

This past February, on our school trip to Israel, a trip that ended up being one of the last times my classmates and I got to spend quality time together (not on Zoom) one memory stands out in particular. I remember climbing up Masada before sunrise. 

When I reached the summit and looked out over the hazy horizon as the sun came up in an explosion of pinks, oranges, and blues, I was filled with awe and wonder, and I began to reflect on my faith and time at Brandeis. 

Brandeis is more than a school. It has been my home for the past 9 years, and the students and teachers have become a part of me and my family. No matter where we are in the world- from Israel to California to quarantined at home- Brandeis is my community. We are a strong Jewish community that lifts each other up. 

As I enter into the next chapter of my life, I carry with me the teachings and values Brandeis has given to me: 

  • A love for learning 

  • Gratitude for all of the gifts God has provided me

  • Pride for the shared history and stories of my heritage and the Jewish people 

  • Respect for other points of view 

  • Empathy for others

  • Determination to use my gifts to help those in need

  • Confidence in who I am 

  • Strength to defend what I believe

  • And the courage to challenge myself. For instance, everyone always talked about climbing Masada on the Israel trip. I don’t think I have ever woken up early for a sunrise before. I didn’t know what it would be like, but Brandeis has always helped me know that on the other side of a challenge is a feeling of pride. 

Brandeis has deepened my understanding of Judaism, the world around me, and myself. My time at Brandeis has not only shown me who I want to be but it has also given me the tools I need to navigate the world with my Jewish knowledge, strength, and empathy. Thank you, Brandeis.