Valedictorians share their insights

By Claudia Hurst

Akiba-Yavneh, Mesorah High School for Girls and Texas Torah Institute each welcomed a new class of alumni this month as their seniors graduated from high school. The Jewish community is proud of the achievements of each of the members of the class of 2023. In honor of this big milestone, the valedictorians of each graduating class have shared their high school experiences and plans for the future.

Akiba Yavneh Academy: Ron Asoulin-Handelman

Ron Asoulin-Handelman attended Akiba Yavneh since preschool. Throughout elementary, middle and high school, he recalled that he always loved math. “Ever since I was young, I’ve always loved how math is concrete. I am a logic-oriented person and I appreciate that there is much less ambiguity in math classes as opposed to other subjects.” Asoulin-Handelman also appreciated that his education at a Jewish school allowed him to combine his studies of traditional subjects, such as math, with important Jewish principles. “One of the most important principles I have learned is the idea of tikkun olam. Tikkun olam is all about fixing the world and making it a better place. That principle has motivated me to engage in activities that I’m interested in, but also in ones that have the potential to help my community at the same time.” Asoulin-Handelman intertwined his love for math and regard for service in order to serve his community through math tutoring. In the fall, Asoulin-Handelman will attend Vanderbilt University, where he earned a full merit scholarship. At Vanderbilt, he plans to continue this commitment to service as a part of the Ingram Scholars Program. “The Ingram Program does a really great job of teaching its members to serve more consciously and connecting them with organizations in the community that will allow the students to really make a difference on a whole new level.” Asoulin-Handelman is planning on studying computer science, but he is excited to study an array of subjects at Vanderbilt.

Mesorah High School for Girls: Hadas Heymann

Hadas Heymann was born in Dallas, but moved to Israel when she was 1. After living in Israel for seven and a half years, Hadas moved back to Dallas and enrolled in Torah Day School. 

In ninth grade, Hadas, and many of her classmates at Torah Day School, began studying at Mesorah High School for Girls. During her time at Mesorah, Heymann’s favorite classes were Chumash (Torah class), Navi (profits), and Geometry. Outside of the classroom, Heymann volunteered for Project Shea, an organization that helps children with special needs, and she was involved in her school’s productions. Last year, she composed a song and taught a coinciding dance to a group of girls for the production performance. Heymann expressed that she will miss the welcoming atmosphere at Mesorah. “Mesorah is a pretty small school. So it feels very warm and homey. I will also miss the teacher connections. The teachers always make sure to connect to the students.” Heymann will move to Israel in late August to begin studying at Nishmas, a female seminary. At Nishmas, she will focus on Jewish studies and also plans to obtain her teacher’s certificate. Heymann intends to return to Dallas next summer and enroll at a university to get a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is undecided on what she will study, but she is interested in architecture and user experience design. 

Texas Torah Institute: Avrami Ziemba

Avrami Ziemba is the valedictorian of Texas Torah Institute (TTI), a four-year high school (mesivta) and yeshiva for young men. Ziemba appreciated many aspects of the school. A highlight of his educational journey was the way the community at TTI made him feel comfortable. “My favorite part of attending TTI was the feeling that I belonged, which was given by the warm attitude of the rabbeim (rabbis) and secular studies teachers. The rabbeim have a close relationship with every student in the yeshiva, and teach them how to approach every step they take in life.” The combination of both Judaic Studies and College-Preparatory General Studies is an important aspect to an education at TTI and prepares students for many different paths after graduation. Ziemba will be continuing his education at Texas Torah Institute next year in the post high school program. This program emphasizes grounding oneself in Torah study and developing character. Ziemba expressed that his Torah based education is a central aspect of his life.

“Spending my high school [experience] in a Torah-based school, such as TTI, [has] had a tremendous impact in my life. I would not have it any other way. The study of Torah taught me a tremendous amount of self-discipline and an appreciation for everyday life. For that, I thank the yeshiva immensely.”

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