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Understanding Your Past & Building Your Future

March of the Living Cincinnati
Students during the 2015 March of the Living trip.
Students during the 2015 March of the Living trip.

“If our students are going to be prepared to participate as active citizens shaping the world of tomorrow, they must understand that history didn’t just happen, it was made, and that they have a place in making the choices that will become the history of tomorrow.” Susan Graseck, National Council for the Social Studies

We all wear many hats within modern society. Our social interactions can be categorized and sub-categorized until we are defined by our daily routines.

But it’s important to take a second from our schedules to reflect on the elements that drive us – what makes us who we are.

Ancestry and lineage are million-dollar industries. With sites like, and DNA analysis testing, we can tell who we descended from, and this information from the past can often shape how we interact today.

Do you identify as Jewish? Was your family descended from royalty? Was your fourth cousin twice removed Alexander Graham Bell? Any one of these answers could shape how you move through society, and who you choose to identify with.

At the J, we recognize the value of strong communities of people – of strong identities and understandings of one’s past.

March of the Living is approaching in May, and it’s an opportunity for many of our youth to travel to locations that family members potentially lived – or suffered – in. All in an attempt to better-understand who they are today. And who they want to be.

The Mayerson JCC is also hosting a Genetic Screening and Testing event on April 3. Many Jewish couples find that they are predisposed to carrying genes that can harm their children. This event involves being tested to tell if they carry any genetic conditions.

Again, both of these events are looking to our past to understand and shape our future. It isn’t as simple as “living in the now,” but it’s as complex as respecting where we came from, and understanding that what we do today shapes the lives of others.

We all have an obligation to stay informed, and to stay passionate about what makes us who we are. By doing so, we are able to build a better future for ourselves, and a stronger identity for our community.

Cross training. Young woman exercising with dumbbells.

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