Murray reads a Hebrew book from right to left, a custom for reading ancient languages.
Murray reads a Hebrew book from right to left, a custom for reading ancient languages.
Salem Ortega-Morales

The Journey of Faith and Connection

SHS teacher navigates through her past religious journey

History teacher Ariana Murray started attending a Hebrew school for a year when she was five, then started attending again five years ago to feel more in touch with her religion.

“I became an adult, and I realized that (learning Hebrew) was something important to me,” Murray said.

The school that Murray attended when she was young was through a Jewish temple called a synagogue. These schools, similar to a Sunday school, teach Hebrew, which can be a very difficult language to learn.

Jewish teens often have a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah when they turn 13. During this, they read in Hebrew from their religious text called the Torah.

Most people attend these schools to prepare for their bar or bat mitzvah.

“In order to go through your bar or bat mitzvah, you have to recite a fairly long portion of the Torah in Hebrew,” Murray said. “So, you need to be able to pronounce everything right.”

Murray feels that learning Hebrew connects her to her culture and ancestors, making her more connected to her past.

“For me, it’s very comforting to know that when I wake up, I’m saying the same prayers my family would have done for 1000’s of years beforehand,” Murray said.

Murray’s journey learning Hebrew has not been easy. The language is one of the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn.

Murray isn’t fluent in Hebrew yet since there are still some letters she doesn’t know. The way it’s read, from right to left, can also be confusing even after many reading sessions.

“It’s ancient (Hebrew), and there have been a lot of changes,” Murray said. “The alphabet is totally different, which for any language makes it a lot harder.”

Though Murray had prepared for her bat mitzvah, outside factors such as anxiety, vulnerability and awkwardness kept her from going through with it.

Murray decided she would do it when she gets older and feels ready. She is to that point now, but it isn’t her number one priority.

“I feel secure enough in my religion and culture at this point that I know that this will add depth to my life,” Murray said. “But I don’t feel less than or as though I missed something by not doing it when I was 13.”

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Elisabeth Pointer
Elisabeth Pointer, Culture Reporter
Hi! I’m Elisabeth Pointer. I’m a junior, and this is my second year writing for culture. I never took a journalism class, but after learning about journalistic writing and how to do it, I have really started to love it. I’m a competitive gymnast and have been doing gymnastics for over 10 years. I also coach little kids at my gym to help them with their gymnastics career. I really like animated shows such as “Steven Universe” and “Gravity Falls.” My favorite color is purple, and my favorite animal is a seal. A close second place would be cats. I have a cat named Sassy and a dog named Blair. I have a little brother named Gabe who is in eighth grade. I’m very passionate about school, and my GPA and grades are some of my biggest achievements. I eventually want to major in plant biology and/or molecular genetics. My dream is to become a genetic engineer and to work on creating new medicines in the future.

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