Quick Links: 2019 Winners and All Submissions · Past Winners · About Megan
An Annual Creative Arts Competition for CBE Confirmation Students to Honor the Life of Megan Miriam Berman
Megan's Muse is an annual creative arts competition for current Congregation Beth Emeth (CBE) Confirmation students, sponsored by CBE's Sisterhood. Its purpose is to stimulate creative thought and expression as inspired by Judaic writings.
Each year a "theme" is chosen by a panel of judges, and a quote or verse is chosen from traditional or non-traditional Jewish writings. Entries are judged by the Confirmation student's ability to convey their understanding and interpretation of the theme via a creative medium.
Winners were announced at Confirmation on June 7, 2019. The winner of Megan’s Muse receives a $500 award. The judges have the option to award additional prizes as warranted. The hope of Sisterhood is that the winner(s) will use this award to further enrich themselves spiritually, creatively, or academically. You can view the competition rules and application.
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
(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.
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
Saving the World
Saving the World — Aaron MacDonald
Other 2019 Submissions
One Life is One World
One Life is One World - Eryn Cohen
The Burning Bush of Life
The Burning Bush of Life - Miriam Gorbach
This is a true story, however names and times have been changed out of respect for the family.
October 16, 2018. Sitting in Chai School, feeling at peace watching the seconds tick by. "Ding", I lifted my phone, assuming it would be my Mom telling me she was on her way to pick me up. It wasn't.
"Kelsi passed away at 11:57 AM." I reread the text.
"Kelsi passed away at 11:57 AM." I reread the text.
"Kelsi passed away at 11:57 AM."
It couldn't be true. I knew the odds were against her, but I prayed in synagogue for her to heal. I believed that a miracle would happen, as if my prayers in synagogue would make a difference; however, not even bothering to think of all the little boys and girls who had passed away before Kelsi, even after hours of prayers were sent their way. Not bothering to think of how people in church were praying for her, praying for his 15 year old girl to heal. Just thinking my prayers will heal her. My prayers will heal her, a miracle will happen. A miracle will happen, or G-d isn't real. I reread the text. The same words still shouted at me.
"Kelsi pass away at 11:57 AM."
I exited my classroom, asking to get water. Breathe, I told myself. Breathe. You shouldn't feel this way. There are people who are more severely affected by this news. Siblings, parents, best friends are hurting more, you only talked to her once. You aren't worthy of feeling grief, you have no right to feel like you had any connection to her. You are here to comfort those who loved her, not feel your own grief. You aren't allowed to have grief. I sat on the floor. I called my mom, and I cried.
Stop, you can't.
Stop, you can't you weren't close friends.
Stop, you can't, you weren't close friends, you have no right to feel grief.
My thoughts took over my brain. I told my mom what happened, and she cried. She had no right to feel grief. Why was she upset? She didn't know Kelsi. She had no right to feel anguish. I hung up, anger brewing inside me, stood up, and sat back down, defeated. People walked by, staring at me. They felt bad, but didn't know why. They didn't know why I was upset, but their eyes shone of pity. I didn't care. My brain was running nonstop, never giving me a break. The week prior, I had posted a Kelsi Strong picture to my Snapchat. So many people had responded, saying anything along the lines of, "what's wrong," "She's in my prayers," or "I don't know her, but I hope she gets better." So many people cared, so many people felt the pain.
When I attended her funeral, there was a full house. Her entire school was represented, along with family, friends, parents who had never spoken to her, and congregants. The priest began the service, and there was not a second where there was a dry eye in the church. "There is no way to comprehend what has happened, and it is easy to lose faith at a time like this," the priest shakily stated, "But the only way to even try to comprehend the current events is to believe that G-d gave us free will, down to the molecules and atoms in our body. This is one of the greatest gifts and punishments in life." Even the priest, the one who led the service to honor Kelsi, was having a hard time, but his words struck me. The moment his lips spoke those words, I was impacted, for I believe them. Those words repeated in my head throughout the entire service, up until the end. They helped prevent me from breaking down, hearing them repeat, over and over and over. The words repeating in my head, I looked round. Her dad crying as he exited the church through the seemingly endless pathway carved out between the benches is an image that will be forever glued into my brain. Everyone in the service was in mourning, regretting not talking to Kelsi more or making the extra effort to appreciate and capture the moments they had spent with her. Her life was cut short, but even in her 15 years, she had impacted so many people, even those who had only exchanged a few words with her, people like me.