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Megan's Muse Past Winners

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2022 - Autumn Frank, Cayla Cohen, & Leo Moskowitz
2021 - Mitchell Swartz
2020 - Sarah Moldover & Ryder Paley
2019 - Allison Silas
2018 - Jordana Sweeney
2017 - Gabi Shapo
2016 - Isaac Stern
2015 - Jacob Biderman
2014 - Allison Richards
2013 - Ethan Cohen
2012 - Geena May, Jeffrey Weinberg

2011 - Sophie Isakowitz
2010 - Jake Hirsch
2009 - Billy Baker
2008 - Civia Stein
2007 - Matthew Mihal
2006 - Rachel Cohen
2005 - Allie Hirsch
2004 - Michelle Levine
2003 - Jeremy Greenberg
2002 - Sharon Levine
2001 - Saul Dorfman

Theme 2022

"I know and I speak from experience, that even in the midst of darkness, it is possible to create light and share warmth with one another; that even on the edge of the abyss, it is possible to dream exalted dreams of compassion; that it is possible to be free and strengthen the ideals of freedom, even within prison walls; that even in exile, friendship becomes an anchor."  -- Elie Wiesel

Winner: Collaborative Project by All Three Confirmation Students

Autumn Frank, Cayla Cohen, and Leo Moskowitz

"Depths of Nature"

Photos of detail (click for larger images)




Theme 2021

“Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it
just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for
your having lived.”  -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg



Tzedakah: A Short Story Collection
Mitchell Swartz

Explanation: Tzedakah: A Short Story Collection is an assemblage of three short stories that all revolve around the concepts of selflessness and giving back. Each story strongly concentrates on the character journey the protagonists go through as they begin to fully understand what it means to put others before themselves. The first story follows Daniel, a High School senior whose sister is hosting a toy drive. The second story follows the stream of consciousness of a young boy named Sam, who goes to his local retail store with a ten-dollar bill ready to spend. The third story follows Elisa, a computer company employee with a passion for teaching. The quote by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contains three main principles: leaving tracks, helping others rather than just yourself, and leaving the world a better place. The short stories each focus on one of the three components while also including significant elements of all of them.

Read the Stories

Theme 2020

... I reached the conclusion that our future shouldn't be about following in the exact footsteps of our predecessors. We are here to learn from our elders and use their knowledge to push us even farther. We are each young adults who have an outstanding amount of potential. We are supposed to learn from our parents – learn from their knowledge, learn from their mistakes, learn from our heritage and, somewhere in there, learn who we are.

Megan Miriam Berman
Confirmation Speech
June 10, 2000



The Book of My Life – Sarah Moldover

Explanation: I wrote and composed an original song about someone paving their own path through life, while still taking inspiration from those who have had an influence on them. My lyrics reflect the idea of the quote, which talks about learning from our elders, but not following in their exact footsteps. The melodies of the song (both vocal and piano) move with the lyrics, rising and falling as the singer explains their past and present journeys.

Lyrics | Sheet Music | Recording

The Book of My Life: Lyrics

Turn a new page
My story still ages
This book is my guide
Let it be my sage

Breathe in and breathe out
I’m writing it all down
No turning around
I’m living it out

I’ve been taught lessons and I’ve been told lies
I’ve learned from the weak and I’ve learned from the wise
I’ve learned from my friends and my family ties
But what shall I do with this knowledge, this prize

I’ll use what I’ve learned
I’ll chase what I’ve yearned for
Find my place in this world
A place that I’ve earned

I’m leaving my mark
I’m writing my own part
My ancestors’ blood
It flows through my heart

I’ll take my lessons, I’ll learn from my lies
Find the theme of the story, see through the disguise
I’ll take every word and read between the lines
These teachings all guide me to live my life

I may not know much
But I know how to love
To learn and to love
Might just be enough

Sheet Music (click on image for pdf of all 4 pages)


Soar – Ryder Paley

Explanation: The project consists of six drawings. Each of the five drawings in a drawn frame represents an ancestral Jewish memory. The final drawing of the Ziz, the legendary Jewish bird whose wingspan obliterates the sun, represents how the collective memories give the next generation the power to soar and allow it to reach more potential than it could alone. This connects to Megan's quote by showing that we learn from our predecessors to find our own flight path and grow from their experiences.





Theme 2019

It was for this reason that humankind was first created as one person [Adam], to teach that anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a life it is as if that person saved an entire world.   – Mishnah Sanhedrin

2019 Megan's Muse First Place Winner

(see poem text below image for easier online reading)

Text for easier reading online:

A shooting star,
Each of us,
Shining on our own,
With an individual glow,
Yet all one radiant light.
Together, we are a system,
Living in coexistence,
A beautiful harmony.
But then when one star
Tries to outshine the rest,
Tries to suppress the sparkle of millions of stars,
The harmony is disrupted by chaos
And the world suddenly fades to gray.
Then what happens?

Six million stars cease to shine,
Six million universes cease to exist,
Six million lives snuffed out in an instant,
Six million Jews robbed of their everything,
Six million worlds destroyed.
That’s what happens.
They say that the death of one is a tragedy,
but the death of millions is just a statistic.

It is NOT just a statistic.
It is six million worlds.
Six million artists, teachers, writers,
Six million doctors, scientists, nurses,
Six million lawyers, judges, counselors,
Six million entrepreneurs, creators, inventors,
Six million lives.
Never again.

But we who live on still carry the shine
Of the millions of stars that came before us.
If each person is a world,
Then we can each make a world of difference.
Whose world will you save today?

A Sky Full of Stars – Allison Silas

Theme 2018

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ....get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.  -- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

2018 Megan's Muse First Place Winner

The Fairy House of Radical Amazement

“Our goal should be to live in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”  - Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel

When thinking about this quote and looking for inspiration for this project, I was walking in the woods behind my house. As I watched the people walking by on the path, many looking down at screens and many talking on their phones, I realized how we often take the beautiful things that God has created for us for granted. I thought about how I could take these gifts and make them even more special, so that people would stop and notice and maybe even connect with each other in a different way. I thought about adding something to the woods that would give others a moment of radical amazement, as they stop and look around them and appreciate the beauty of nature and the kindness of other people.

I had watched a documentary about fairy houses—small, colorful houses that people often create in the bottom of old trees—and decided to find a spot to create one behind my house. Using wood, paint, and some doll furniture, as well as some carpentry help from my dad, I was able to take something normal and ordinary that people might walk by every day and make it into an opportunity for them to stop and smile. I left a small bag with sticky notes and a pencil and I have had my own moments of amazement as I have checked back to find sweet notes written by people of all ages, which you can find here—these are after just a few days after building the house. I plan to create more houses to add to my fairy village, and to create more moments of radical amazement for my community and for myself.

The Fairy House of Radical Amazement — Jordana Sweeney

Theme 2017

Then the Lord said to Moses. “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. And you lift up your rod and hold out your arm over the sea and split it, so that the Israelites may march into the sea on dry ground.”  
-- Exodus 14:15-16

Rabbi Judah said to [Rabbi Meir], "This is not what happened, rather, this [tribe] said, 'I will not be the first to go down to the sea,' and this one said, 'I will not be the first to go down to the sea.' (Hosea 12:1) Then Nachshon ben Aminadav sprang forward and went down first to the sea. As Psalm 114:3 says, 'The sea saw [him], and fled.'"
-- Sotah 36B-37A

2017 Megan's Muse First Place Winner

The Ripple Effect:  What Does it Mean to be Brave?

Imagine your biggest fear.  A fear that surrounds you like a black hole swallowing a planet; like a starving vulture devouring a rodent.  Imagine immersing yourself in this fear by choice – for the unlikely, uncertain hope of saving others.  Would you do it?

Nahshon did.

His fear of water exhausted his thoughts until the quiet hours of night slowly crept to morning.  His wishes consisted only of escaping from what is clear and calm, yet corrosive.  When faced with his most immense fear as the Red Sea refused to split, he took the risk of his life for the sake of others.

Nahshon is brave.

This stream of water flowing over parting rocks represents Nahshon’s bravery.  Just as the water flows from its origin to the rocks below it, Nahshon’s bold character flows into each generation of Jews, provoking the bravery in us all.

Don't see video above? View it on YouTube

The Ripple Effect — Gabi Shapo


2017 Megan's Muse Honorable Mention

Red Sea Word Cloud

Red Sea Word Cloud — Seth Richards

Theme 2016

Blessed Is The Match
(Serdice Yugoslavia May 1944)

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor's sake.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

                                                                          --Hannah Senesh

2016 Megan's Muse First Place Winner

A Fire in My Heart — Isaac Stern

2016 Megan's Muse Second Place Winner

The Night’s Battles

She pulled back her knotted hair
Handful of curls at a time
Wrapping their way around her battered knuckles
Twisted back into a bun
She was a warrior
A term she used loosely describing herself
This war was one she couldn’t win
And she knew it
But she didn’t stop trying
Each day she pressed on harder than the one before
Fighting the one evil she saw

(read more)

The Night's Battles — Lila Schandler

Theme 2015

“Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit…” Zechariah 4:6

2015 Megan's Muse Winner

G-d, Man and Nature — Jacob Biderman

2015 Megan's Muse Runner-Up

Means of Judgement

We make judgements every second.
Consciously and unconsciously.
Justly and unjustly.
Quickly and slowly.
Based on look,
On prestige,
And on title.

As the sayings go,
We must "Not judge a book by its cover,"
For "Beauty is what is on the inside, not out."

Might and power lye on the outside.
Might and power are great, physical strengths and abilities.
Might and power are the cover a book,
And the face of a person.
Might and power are concepts by which we must not judge ourselves or others.

Upon what must we make judgements?
Upon spirit.

Spirit lies inside.
Spirit is essence, and character.
Spirit is the moral of a book,
And the heart of a person.
Upon spirit,
We must perceive ourselves and others.

Not by might, nor by power, but by spirit.

Means of Judgement — Jenna Kaufman

Sat, September 30 2023 15 Tishrei 5784