By Tamara Russo
The Ask Big Questions (ABQ) fellows went to Shabbat Dinner to ask the question “How do we connect?” in honor of Avi Schaefer. Avi was an American citizen who served three years in the Israel Defense Forces; first as a soldier, then as a counter-terrorism instructor. He returned to the states to attend Brown University after completing his service, only to be hit by a drunk driver. Avi encouraged connection through dialog with those who had different opinions and promoted peace surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Each ABQ fellow sat at a different table. I began with an opener, asking the table to share the reason that they came to Shabbat. The table then read two different excerpts that began the conversation. My table discussed the pros and cons of being the minority, how our experiences and upbringing shape us to become who we are, and truly understanding that everyone we encounter comes from a different background. As the conversation grew, I felt the need to speak on behalf of Tamara and not the facilitator, something that ABQ fellows do not normally do. In my two years of being an ABQ fellow, this was the most powerful and enriching conversation ABQ has ever done.
Tamara Russo is a senior Psychology major from South Florida. She is a senior resident assistant, the secretary of the National Residence Hall Honorary, a committee member for Hofstra’s Relay for Life, and an active member in Hofstra Hillel. Tamara has been an ABQ Fellow for the past two years.