May 17, 2012
Matt Schneeweiss: Choosing the glory of the path of Torah
Matt Schneeweiss found himself facing a crossroads at the beginning of his sophomore year in high school and chose the path of Torah.
That year, he met a group of students from Northwest Yeshiva High School at a Shabbaton hosted by the Seattle kollel. “I was shy and didn’t talk to them very much,” he recalled. “They were talking excitedly about classes. They were normal kids, not super religious or nerdy.”
He said that he noticed “something profound” as he listened to their conversation, that they loved learning, both Torah and secular subjects. “They glowed about their teachers, they excitedly engaged in philosophical discussions and actually enjoyed telling me about their homework.”
That Rosh Hashana he confronted his parents with his decision to switch to NYHS, and that he would do it even if he would have to live away from home. But they joined him in his choice and uprooted themselves, replanting themselves into Orthodox Judaism.
And on May 21st Schneeweiss will be valedictorian at the commencement of Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, not only validating his path but also instructing his fellow graduates on his philosophy of education.
Matt Schneeweiss was born in Hawaii to a Jewish father and Catholic mother, both irreligious. After a brief stay in Baltimore, they moved to Yakima, a small town in eastern Washington State. The family became involved in the local Reform temple, but after studying their theology, Schneeweiss’ father determined that it was “morally, spiritually, and intellectually bankrupt.”