Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

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pianolesspianist

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Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby pianolesspianist » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:48 am

Hi there! I'm shooting for NYU or Columbia, so I wanna get all the feedback I can before sending in my personal statement. Any insights would be appreciated!
Personal Statement:

“But you’re not...gay, right?” My fiancé’s horrified tone was matched by the fear in her eyes as I shattered her perception of the world on a park bench in Jerusalem. Neither she nor I had ever met someone who was attracted to the same sex. How would we? There was no place for homosexuality in our universe. Not because it was despised per se, but because it simply didn’t exist. My sexuality was more than just taboo - it was downright mythological, and so I resolved to bury my secret in the ceremony of marriage.
After a year of shidduchim (Jewish matchmaking), I met Esty and, two weeks later, we agreed to marry. Though this may seem an inordinately brief period of time, it was only slightly shorter than the norm in our community. In Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, dating is a process undertaken for the explicit and exclusive purpose of finding a spouse; in fact, no touching is permitted prior to the wedding whatsoever (which, needless to say, was something of a relief in my case).
Ironically, my engagement to Esty is what ultimately gave me the courage to reveal my homosexuality for the first time. I could lie to myself, you see, but I couldn’t let someone else live with the consequences of my own fabrication. The marriage was called off shortly after, and my beloved Rebbe tearfully recommended that I begin seeing “an expert in dealing with this issue.” Desperate to achieve heterosexual marriage, I began engaging in various forms of conversion therapy - changing my sexual orientation seemed far more feasible than relinquishing my commitment to Jewish law.
For the next year and a half, I spent most of my emotional, mental, and financial resources in an attempt to develop an attraction to women. My efforts were in vain - I still couldn’t see the appeal of breasts, nor had I managed to exorcise any modicum of my attraction to men. I spiraled into a deep depression as I tried to make sense of my predicament, searching desperately for some version of reality that would allow me to find happiness despite the incompatibility of my greatest emotional needs with my deepest religious convictions.
My salvation, as it turns out, came in the form of a book entitled The Hidden Book in the Bible. Upon reading it, I was exposed to the Documentary Hypothesis of Biblical criticism, a theory that provided an intellectually persuasive – yet flagrantly heretical – means of examining the Bible. It took an uncharacteristically long time, but I began to question the veracity of my Judaic beliefs, and these doubts led me to explore alternative perspectives both within the scope of Judaism and beyond it. Gradually, my political, social, and theological views began to change – drastically.
At this point I must confess I’m uncertain that I would have had the courage to challenge the beliefs upon which I had built my entire life were it not for my homosexuality. Though my intellect might have been swayed, the prospect of forsaking everything I believed in might have been far too daunting to undertake. The lack of place for my homosexuality, however, compelled to seek an alternative – academic knowledge merely gave me license abandon my Judaism; it was being gay that gave me reason to do so.
Nevertheless, leaving the self-imposed restrictions of religion was as unimaginably liberating as one might imagine. The modern world was all very new, very difficult, and extremely intriguing. Cliché as it may sound, I transformed. Aspirations of piety and religious zeal morphed into dreams of academic achievement and social accomplishment; struggles with sexual sin were replaced with challenges of body image and navigating through an unfamiliar society. I discovered my prodigious love of travel, sex, culture, and, above all, people. Experiencing life in two distinctly different societies helped me internalize a tragically underemphasized truth: our greatest differences are the merely the result of our incidental environments. Realizing that circumstance is the primary architect of our beliefs enabled me to embrace the diversity that comes with being human, and in doing so, I learned to embrace myself.
But our world has yet to manifest this realization. Men like me are hanged in the plazas of Iran and held captive in the jails of Nigeria. Women are stoned in Saudi Arabia and raped by their husbands in India. And in America, immigrants are torn apart from their families even as our welcome mat hypocritically invites “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” But all this is perfectly legal! The mistaken ideas that we may ascribe significance to difference and that a personal belief may be imposed on another’s private endeavors has allowed us to construct laws that are harmful, oppressive, and in some cases lethal.
The remedy for a problem so deeply rooted in human psychology is not something I can purport to provide. I’m convinced, however, that entering the field of law is an excellent place for me to start. As a Talmudist, I know that the law is both rigid yet surprisingly flexible in its ability to adapt and evolve; as a gay student of criminology, I understand the desperation of those who have been wronged by its inadequacies. My devotion to religion has been thoroughly replaced by my passion for humanity, and the dream of true equality for all people in all places.
It is my greatest hope that I will be able to take the first step towards realizing this ambition at New York University. To be part of an institution that is both “in and of the city,” so proudly aware of its geographical significance in terms of both culture and profession, would be a dream in and of itself. Since that park bench in Jerusalem, I have had opportunity to alter a number of people’s perception of the world. Through law, I hope to help alter the world’s perception of itself - one bench at a time.


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