Dear Richmond Jewish Community,
Thirty-two years ago you took me in, and today you are my source of belonging.
In the early 1990s, the Richmond Jewish community took in a little seven-year old girl and her family, refugees from the former Soviet Union (Ukraine, Vinnitsa). Since those fateful years, you, members of our Jewish community, transformed my life.
There’s a lot to share in this story, and this time, I’d like to hone in on RTA, shedding light on the tremendous impact it had in my life, mindset, and understanding of the world around me.
In just a short time, RTA created the foundation for my love of being Jewish, my Jewish identity and drive to make a difference in the world around me.
At RTA, I didn’t realize how different I was, because there, I was seen for whom I am. Arriving in a new country, a new, foreign, world, RTA took me in and quickly infused within me a sense of overall belonging, well-being. This starkly contrasted with the world I faced in public school where suddenly I was rejected as a foreigner. All because of my big head of unruly curls and my shorts up to my waist (haha apparently the European way was ahead of my time)?
My family, and RTA enabled me to hold to my true north of self-assurance, authenticity, and an ability to listen within. As a small child, I became deeply rooted in Jewish values and community, and for that I am forever grateful to RTA.
At RTA, I received a lifelong grounding in Judaism’s timeless practices and traditions. Different Jewish traditions speak to me more at various times of my life, and exposure to Jewish Day School education at RTA gave me this resource for a lifetime. Shabbat is a tradition one cannot miss, for you have not lived, until you know Shabbat!
As a kid, I was occasionally invited for sleepovers on Shabbos. I remember helping my friends with Shabbat lunch, and spending time on the playground and walking from shul. Now, it’s my kids who host and are invited to sleepovers, and I am so proud to know just enough kashrut rules to make sure every one of their friends feel welcome. The tradition of weekly Shabbat holds a special place in my memories – for this I thank RTA and the teachers, Rabbis, and the surrounding beautiful community of families and kids that make up this richness. I’m immensely thankful that it was a part of my past, present, and future.
At RTA, we go on field trips, yet there is a layer deeper than meets the eye. As a kid, I went to DC with my class, but this was no ordinary White House trip… yup, yours truly, got to play dreidel with President Bush, Sr.!
As a modern woman, in a free society, I’m inspired by the Declaration of Independence we saw chaperoning on a field trip RTA’s 4th-6th graders recently took to Yorktown and Jamestown. For if you have never tasted a lack of freedom, it is hard to know how truly sweet freedom is!
Nowadays, I’m so lucky to have my family, my dear friends, and a deep sense of connection to all Jewish people. When it’s just me and the kids on a Saturday, it’s no surprise I enjoy finding myself in shul, the source of Jewish wisdom and teachings, and the place that brings me into my broader community. For you see, my community is where that sense of belonging, instilled by RTA, continues for me until today.
(ABOVE) Three generations! This photo is from June 6, 2021, during last year’s ALL IN fundraising campaign. Pictured are Sarah Korshin, who was then an RTA 4th grader; Ira Korshin, mom; Tatyana Perelman, grandmother; and, Josh Korshin, then a 3rd grader. – RTA is FUNdraising across the generations – join the sensation and bring your family’s generations together with ours, May 15-16!
Now that my story is before you, and I’m back at RTA as an alum, parent, volunteer, supporter and board member, I wish to ask you, my dear Jewish Community who welcomed this little 7-year-old refugee of the Former Soviet Union back in 1990:
What is this experience worth to you? What is it worth to grow up among Jews of different backgrounds in a school? What is it worth to know and feel at home with your Judaism? What is it worth to feel love and curiosity with one’s own Jewish identity?
What is it worth to walk away with more questions than answers from a debate with classmates and teacher, because independent critical thinking is the bedrock of education at a Jewish day School? What is it worth to raise Jewish kids in a thriving Jewish community who grew up long enough amongst their Jewish friends to know their roots?
What is it worth to empower the next generation of Jewish Day School graduates to be upstanders in a world we can’t predict? What is it worth for a child to reach their own potential, because we have a well-funded school? What is it worth to continue the RTA tradition into the future…deeply rooted and forward focused?
As we enter this year’s ALL IN campaign, I ask you, dear reader, to join me in making your mark in raising Jewish kids, and empowering our shared responsibility as a Jewish people to educate our kids … by educating the mind, and touching the heart.
Last year you helped us reach the single most successful annual fundraiser of 100K. Let’s meet that once again and support our kids!
Come visit us at RTA and go ALL IN for 2022 and beyond! Visit charidy.com/rta
Ira Korshin (Perelman)