I’ve wanted to be on ‘Jeopardy!’ since I was a little kid. My parents were like, ‘You seem to know a lot of these answers, so you should try out. I did well enough on the test to get an audition for the ‘Jeopardy! National College Championship.’ And then from there, it was like a dream coming true.
Family recipes, passed down from generation to generation, bring me closer to my Persian roots.
Growing up, I thought my Jewish and Japanese identities conflicted. When I was in a Jewish setting, there never seemed to be any Japanese people, and when I was in a Japanese setting, there never seemed to be any Jewish people. I felt in-between worlds. Then, I learned about the power of intersectionality.
“In February, I volunteered at ‘Spread Cream Cheese, Not Hate’, a campus event organized by Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach to raise awareness about antisemitism and other forms of hate. Alongside Hillel students and professionals, I asked members of our community to sign a pledge to combat antisemitism, and in return, gave out fresh bagels and cream cheese.
I am Jewish, queer, and Mexican. So often, trying to hold all three of these identities at once is challenging. But I didn’t have to try when I went on Birthright Israel with Santa Barbara Hillel. I was able to embrace and celebrate every part of myself.
Syracuse Hillel has been part of my family for more than 30 years. When I received my college acceptance letter, I was ready to make them proud.
There’s a running joke in my family: We breed oranges because we bleed orange. The mascot of Syracuse University — where my mom, uncle, and brother all went to college — is an orange named Otto. Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to go to Syracuse University.
My mom is Catholic, and my dad is Jewish. They never pushed religion on me. My parents always said, ‘We don’t care what religion you choose to follow, but you have to come to terms with it yourself and make it your own.’ So, I did. I chose Judaism when I was 12 years old, and ever since then, I’ve tried to make it my own.
When I started college in 2020, social isolation and Zoom calls were the norm. Finding community seemed impossible. Then, I learned about Koach, an egalitarian, Conservative-style minyan and community for students at Columbia/Barnard Hillel.
My family is Mizrahi, meaning my Jewish ancestors lived in Western Asia and North Africa. I can trace my roots back to Bukhara, Persia, and Yemen.
I came to college not expecting to be that Jewish. But, I realized your identity and your culture will follow you, and in my case, Judaism followed me. And no matter how I practice at any given time, I’m going to be Jewish and involved in Judaism.