My story begins with other people’s stories; namely, my grandmother’s. I was born in Rishon L’Tzion a few years after my family emigrated from Belarus to Israel, and I spent the first eight years of my life listening to my grandmother share her memories. Her stories from life in the Soviet Union were poignant and became part of my identity and sense of self.
It was the first day of move-in for my first year at University of Maryland, College Park. My dad helped me move into my dorm and then, to my complete shock, dropped me off at Maryland Hillel with the firm suggestion, “Go make friends.” I was terrified until I walked in and started meeting the […]
Suzy Sostrin, KU Hillel’s Executive Director, was making coffee when I walked into KU Hillel for the first time. She immediately came over to meet me and then introduced me to the other students who were hanging out at Hillel. From that first interaction with a Hillel professional, I felt like I was enough.
But the beauty of Hillel is that everyone is welcome, no matter how “Jewish” they feel. Through my experiences, I realized that Judaism was a lot more relatable than what I learned in Hebrew school. In general, I started to feel more proud and more excited to be Jewish.
“As a high school freshman, I stepped into leadership for the first time through BBYO. My passion for grassroots organizing and teen initiative inspired me to run for BBYO’s International Board, and I started in February 2020 as the international treasurer. With this position, I was given the platform to take action on causes I’m […]
For me, being lucky enough to be a Jew means my life’s purpose is to heal the world, one action at a time.
“To me, being Jewish means everything. To be Jewish is to have received a higher calling guiding me to dedicate my life to serving the globe’s neglected communities. To be Jewish means I face struggles and adversity with a smile on my face because I know my ancestors have given me the strength to overcome […]
I was a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the day of the Pittsburgh synagogues shooting that took the lives of 11 Jewish people. Now, as a senior, not a day passes where I do not wear my necklace, over my shirt, where everyone can see it. I am proud to be Jewish and I am proud to #OwnMyStar.
Jewish identity isn’t necessarily about how many rituals you observe. It’s about the type of person you are and what you put out into the world.
The place that I’ve gotten to do a lot of my own personal passion projects in college has been Hillel. It’s made me more of an active Jew, to see Judaism more as doing things for other people, with other people, than just an individual practice.
Music has always gone hand in hand with my Jewish identity. I’m a classical singer, and over the last couple of years, I’ve been adding Jewish repertoire to my list. Some of it comes from liturgical sources, but I’ve also been singing in Yiddish a little bit. Hebrew and Yiddish music is informing a lot of my thesis studies.
As a convert, I know what it feels like to be nervous walking into Jewish spaces. Now it’s my job to make sure no one feels like that.
I didn’t come to college with the mindset of, “Oh, time to convert to Judaism.” That wasn’t on my agenda. But, I do credit a lot of the Rutgers Hillel staff and the student board for the work they did to make Hillel such a pluralistic and accessible space for people like me.