Student Life - What's my story?

Tali Pelts

On Orthodoxy and Modernity

ICJA has shown me that modernity and Orthodoxy complement one another and are by no means mutually exclusive. Prior to my ICJA education, I had not given much thought to the person I wanted to become. I had always been ambitious and hoped to study in a prestigious university that would lead me to success in the modern world. So, I worked hard to develop my academic self, but upon entry to high school, I realized I had neglected my religious self.

Reflecting on my past three years at ICJA, I have been given the tools that have shaped my character and solidified my identity as a Jew. Interestingly enough, the class at ICJA that most solidified both my belief in G-d and my belief in a Torah U’Madda lifestyle was not a judaic studies class; rather, it was AP Biology with Rabbi Teitcher.

Though AP Bio consisted of the same syllabus taught in any other school, the experience itself was one that only ICJA could provide. I remember one day in Bio, learning about biotechnology and the palindromic restriction sites for restriction enzymes. Following on the topic of palindromes, Rabbi Teitcher supplemented the lesson with the super-palindrome written by Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra. The palindrome reads “פרשנו רעבתן שבדבש נתבער ונשרף” forwards, backwards, and up and down when the words are stacked.

On that day in AP Biology, the thought in each student’s mind was probably “Only at ICJA.” And it truly is so. Only at ICJA would an AP Bio teacher be able to impress students with a small lesson about a Torah commentator and use the lesson to explain a biological practice. For this reason, I hold my ICJA education to be infinitely valuable. When the time comes for me to graduate, I will be leaving with more than deep knowledge about Navi, Chumash, Biology, or U.S. History: I will be leaving with the knowledge of how each one of those is closely intertwined. And I will be leaving with the tools that will enable me to amalgamate my secular, intellectual pursuits with the religious values that I hold.