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This week, Eli Lewis is sharing his reflections on the Talmidim trip to Atlanta. He discusses the impact the programming had on his perception of the justice system, and the connection he formed with his unit during this engaging and exciting trip!

Hi, my name is Eli Lewis and I am a 2nd-year Talmidimer. I had a ton of fun on the Talmidim trip this year. We did a lot of interesting things, like visiting the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama, doing a program with Repair the World at Jewish Federation ATL, and other fun activities with my friends.

The Legacy Museum is about racial injustice, how slavery is tied to mass incarceration, and how racism continues to persist in modern America. The program with Repair the World taught us about how black people are more likely to be convicted of crimes than white equivalents. They are presumed guilty in most cases, as opposed to white individuals who are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We did an activity where we were given crime and a list of identity traits and did mock sentencing. I was given a DUI as a minor and vehicular manslaughter of 4 done by a white, wealthy male in his early 20s. He was given 10 years of probation and a short stay in a private rehabilitation center. This blew my mind and really changed how I think of the prison system and its relationship to race.

These programs were fun and fascinating and taught me a lot about the injustice in our prison system. While we did lots of fun learning,  we also did lighter activities such as going to an Atlanta Braves game, 6 flags, and hanging out at Centennial Olympic Park. One of the craziest parts was saying the prayers before and after the meal in front of everyone else in the dorms we stayed at Georgia State. They looked at us like we were crazy, but it was fun. I enjoyed having cabin prayers with the entire unit and having song session. We were able to bond so much as a unit and it truly was amazing. I am so thankful we to all of the staff and the people who made this trip possible. It is sure to be one of the highlights of my summer!