By Mindy Rubenstein / mrubenstein@atljewishtimes.com

Congregation Beth Jacob Rabbi Ilan Feldman (right) presents an award to Rabbi Menachem Deutsch for his role in founding Temima. (photo by Ruby Grossblatt)

Congregation Beth Jacob Rabbi Ilan Feldman (right) presents an award to Rabbi Menachem Deutsch for his role in founding Temima. (photo by Ruby Grossblatt)

Thursday, June 11, I attended the graduation ceremony of Temima High School. Ten girls completed a chapter of their lives, and we were all there to celebrate their accomplishment. But this was unlike any graduation I have ever witnessed.

There was something magical about the ceremony. After leaving, I got into my car and wept. At first I attributed the tears to feeling as if I would never be as holy as those girls. They received an amazingly complete and wholesome education, learning how to connect with G-d and how to channel both their positive and negative character traits to walk a holy path.

They spoke with confidence and eloquence and fear of G-d. They spoke about dressing modestly in an age when society makes it challenging. They spoke about giving up small things for a greater reward.

These are unlike any teenagers I have ever known. It was like entering another world, one that is authentic and pure and complete.

The school’s principal, Rebbetzin Miriam Feldman, seems to see each of those girls right through to their souls, realizing what is uniquely beautiful about each of them and drawing out their strengths in an incredible way. I have heard many good things about the school, but Thursday night I was able to see why people find Temima to be so truly special.

And it makes me so grateful that we moved hundreds of miles to live here. As somewhat recent baalai teshuvas, my husband and I have worked to bring Torah and holiness into our lives. It hasn’t always been easy. Though our formal Jewish education was lacking, we are working to ensure that our children’s is not.

So why the tears?

“I, too, cry my heart out at these graduations, so I know what you are talking about,” a rabbi told me when I shared my experience with him. “For me, they are religiously elevating experiences.”

He added: “I suspect you were in touch with something profound and huge, and that is why you cried. I doubt it was because of your feelings of inadequacy, though it sometimes shows up that way.”

Indeed, now I know why people are drawn to the Temima graduation ceremony, even if they aren’t directly connected with one of the graduates.

We were in the presence of holiness, girls who get what it is to be a Jewish woman, who know the language of the soul, who know, at a young age, what it is to persevere during the test of life and to grow close to the Creator.

At these graduations, souls are laid bare. It was a profoundly moving experience to see it.