Anat Berday-Sacks (’15), speaking at the ICJA Groundbreaking

I’m from Indianapolis, and I am a senior at Ida Crown.

Why would I choose ICJA when I live in Indianapolis? Because it is a home where I can speak Hebrew or English. A home where I can eat my friend’s lunch without worrying about kashrut. A home where I can see fliers for debate club on the wall and know that the club meetings won’t be on Shabbat. A home where a hallway of people sang me happy birthday less than two months after I transferred.

Four years ago, I wouldn’t have appreciated such a place. I spent my freshman year in Indianapolis trying to balance Judaism with a challenging academic curriculum. We all get tired of fall, a season saturated with holidays, but after surviving the grueling weeks of alternating missing school and making it up, I can tell you ICJA is worth the hours I spend in Chicago traffic to get home for the holidays. Freshman year I felt out of place in public high school, reaching up for a mezuzah when there was none. By senior year, I feel confident telling 7th and 8th graders at orientation that ICJA is the best place for them. More importantly, I realized how right ICJA is for me.

As you’ve seen, the new plans include a soccer field and a beit midrash and a parking lot with plenty of space for all the new student drivers, who we want as far away from Rabbi Matanky’s car as possible. Honestly, all these descriptions make me envious of the incoming students. We live in the 21st century and we need this building to provide the technology we have trouble living without. For instance, in the new school we will have a computer lab for students to use to print out that English paper they forgot about until 11:59 the night before. Some things never change. This will be ICJA’s 5th building. Although the building keeps changing, ICJA will maintain its personality and unique purpose: fulfilling the needs of students bridging religious and secular life.

I am thankful I can come to a Jewish school where I don’t have to explain myself and fight for moments of religious commonality. Freshman year, when I was asked about my opinions of Israel, or why I believed in God, I wasn’t prepared to answer. I still have a long way to go. But Ida Crown gave me a year of Jewish History, the skills to analyze primary sources, and a group of friends who question the same things as I do but have found different answers. ICJA has helped me do what I love most, be it through a scholarship for YU’s Model United Nations Convention or having a cross-country team that doesn’t compete on Shabbat. I am thankful for my amazing boarding family. And I am thankful my parents saw Ida Crown for what it is and what it could, and will, be.