Graduating Senior Gaby Souferian's Dvar Torah

Monday, 3 January, 2022 - 1:59 pm

IMG_6291.jpegShabbat Shalom! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Gaby Souferian, and as of this month, I’m a graduated senior here at UT!  Rabbi Zev convinced me to say a few words tonight and to be honest, I had no idea where to begin when I started to think about my Jewish journey here at UT.

Coming to Austin from Los Angeles as a Persian Jew, I was in the minority, not only from being out of state but from my background and religious observance. I came to Texas eager to challenge myself and my beliefs, looking forward to meeting people who were like me- sharing both similar and completely different values than me. I soon joined AEPhi and met some of my friends who could relate to my love of Judaism, the holidays, Israeli music, and Israel.

I’ve been coming to Chabad for the past 4 years for Shabbat dinners, lunches, and the holidays, and I am really grateful to have found such an amazing home away from home here.

In this week’s Parsha: Vayigash, Jacob goes to Egypt with “70 soul”- singular rather than the plural ‘souls’. I discussed this with some of my close friends from Israel and considered the beautiful message behind this minor change in grammar. We concluded that he dropped the plural for ‘souls’ because he believed that these 70 people were all brought together and unified by one soul. This message of unity really stood out to me because although we may look at the same things in different ways, we still share the same goals and values as Jews. 

I’ve learned that this really applies to my life and my time spent here at UT. Although I may look at things differently: celebrating holidays or interpreting texts from the Torah differently, I still have this community and all of you here tonight to share my story and my interpretations with.

Some advice I want to offer: I really believe that we get what we put into things… In other words, when we all came to college and moved away from home, whether it was from Dallas, New York, or Los Angeles, we started to make our own decisions in figuring out what our OWN values were, separate from our family’s. That could look like going to more Shabbat services or dinners, less than, or none at all.

For me, it’s been really important to hold on to my Jewish identity and I truly want to stress that if you have any interest in delving deeper into your identity or have started to question a belief you may have, I encourage you to really take advantage of the people you have here, not just Zev and Ariela but each other. Starting these conversations and challenging yourself can sometimes be difficult, but it is so worth it. 

To Zev and Ariela: Words truly cannot express how grateful I am for your constant love, support, and willingness to always challenge me in the best ways possible. I have had some of my most memorable times here at Chabad, and I look forward to coming back in January and doing it all over again for one last semester.


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