Sofia Freudenstein, Class of 2021

This summer I worked at an organization called Ayeka. Ayeka is a Hebrew word taken from the term in Genesis that describes God looking for Adam and Eve after they ate from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge: “The Lord God called out to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (Genesis 3:12).  Ayeka, the organization, takes this question to a broader context, asking: Where are you on your Jewish journey? Where are you in your connection to Jewish text, people, and spirituality?

Ayeka attempts to address these questions by working on curricula and educating people to ask these questions of themselves and the liturgy with which they interact. I might pray three times every day, or once a year, or not at all, but am I actually taking the time to think seriously about my place in the world as a Jew? What is my calling? Most interestingly, Ayeka teaches educators, believing that the best way to convey a message isn’t necessarily changing the text, but instilling passion in the educator.

Rabbi Aryeh ben David, the founder of Ayeka, has an idea of harmonic vibrations. When you put two guitars facing each other, whatever is plucked on one guitar vibrates on the other: they influence each other.  So too with people: when one gives off a certain attitude, it rubs off. In educational spaces, if one gives off a feeling of passion and interest, it usually inspires and empowers others.

That’s why Ayeka creates retreats and programming to ‘recharge’ educators, to make their teaching and interaction with Jewish text more dynamic. Israel is a great place to exercise all of this since the history and connection to the past makes everything in Israel more meaningful – everything contributes to the mission of the millenia-old Jewish story.

I am excited to take some of the skills I’ve learned back to campus and specifically Hillel this year.  I think a great way to connect Jewishly is through text since there is such a range of reading really for anyone.  There’s literature, logic, poetry, history – I think everyone can find their own personal voice in it. I hope that Hillel will have lots of opportunities for us to explore our voices in the Jewish story this year!

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