Parshat Bereshit: 3 d’var Torahs from the Berlin sisters

Hannah, Marissa and Ellie Berlin
From left: Hannah, Marissa and Ellie Berlin (Courtesy of Berlin family)

Into the unknown

By Marissa Berlin


In Bereshit, G-d created everything with order. The first day, G-d created light and dark. The second day, G-d created sky and heaven. The third day, water and land. The fourth day, sun and moon. The fifth day, sea creatures and birds. The sixth day, G-d created all the other animals, and finally on the seventh day, G-d rested. G-d made the earth step by step. It seemed like G-d had a plan and knew exactly what was coming next.

However, in today’s world, we have no idea what the future holds. In the spring, we did not know if we were going to be able to go to camp or whether or not we would be coming back to school in the fall.

Now, we do not know when this pandemic will end. We are stepping into the unknown, just like Elsa did in “Frozen 2.” It would be nice to know what is going to happen next, like G-d’s plan with the creation of the earth. Unfortunately, we cannot control what is happening next, but what we can control is our attitude. We need to maintain courage and optimism even though it may be challenging.

I am looking forward to when this pandemic is over and when we will have a plan, but until then, we are going into the unknown, so remain positive and courageous through this time.



Reaching out during times of loneliness

By Hannah Berlin

In G-d’s plan, Adam was created, but G-d quickly realized that no one should live alone. So G-d created Eve, the first woman, to keep Adam company. Before Eve was created, Adam was lonely. He had no one to talk to or spend time with.

Loneliness is something a lot of people are experiencing right now. In order to stay safe, you cannot spend time with people in the same way as before.

My ZayZay comes over to our house every day to hang out with us. He comes over because we do not want him to be lonely at his house being by himself since my Bubby died last year.

My Bubby was a very thoughtful and caring person. She would always send out cards for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions. She would do this to make sure that people knew they were being thought of and not feel alone. Now, I help my ZayZay write and send out these cards every month. It is important to me that people get cards and that I am carrying on this tradition for my Bubby.

Every Shabbat, even during quarantine, we bake challahs in our house and then I go with my mom to deliver them to friends and family. This is a nice thing to do, and even though people cannot have big Shabbat dinners with their friends and family right now, we want to make sure people can still celebrate Shabbat, no matter who they can be with. We want to remind these people that we are there for them even socially distanced.

Just like G-d gave Eve to Adam to help him not be lonely, I hope that all of these things that my family does show that we are here for other people, especially during these times when people can feel so alone.



From generation to generation

By Ellie Berlin

For us, family is the opposite of being alone. In Chapter 2 verse 10, it says, “A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and it divides and becomes four branches.” To me, this means that the main river is the family and then the children of those families branch out to make their own families for generations and generations. The water symbolizes traditions that flow to others in your family.

This is important to me because in my life, family comes first. I love hearing about all the traditions that have been passed down through the generations, and we love starting new ones, too.

There are so many traditions we have. On my dad’s side, we blow out our shamash every night of Chanukah, so it lasts all eight nights. On my mom’s side, the night before Thanksgiving, we sleep over at our Bubby and ZayZay’s house, and we watch Hallmark movies, bake and watch the Macy’s Parade. With both sets of grandparents, we have a yearly tradition for our birthdays. They give us one day and a night where we get to plan whatever we want to do. My parents, sisters and I have lots of traditions, too. One of my favorites is when we eat dinner every night all together and play a lot of games — which I like to win.

Our second family is Camp Louise and we have so many fun camp traditions. We play jacks, tie-dye, make string bracelets and every night we sing “The Goodnight Song.” We cannot wait to get back to camp next summer to continue these traditions.

In our Torah portion, “the water flows down the river to go into different branches,” just like family traditions get passed down. I cannot wait to pass our traditions onto my children and continue to make new ones on the way.

Marissa and Hannah Berlin are eighth-grade students at Krieger Schechter Day School. Ellie Berlin is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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