Finding My Jewish Home at Hillel



July 2, 2018

I’m from New Jersey. My mom is an Afro-Latina from the island of Hispaniola. My dad is German and Polish. I was raised Jewish, not overly involved but not unaffiliated, and with Jewish values. The turning point for me was a day in the spring toward the end of Birthright Israel registration. I had just been informed that I was ineligible to participate in another Jewish organization’s Birthright trip because they believed that according to Jewish law, I was not Jewish.

That was the moment I contacted Hillel. Hillel was tabling for their Birthright Israel trip at the time and I got the number of the Hillel Birthright coordinator. We met that day and she was able to get me on a Rutgers Hillel trip right away. She also made me feel instantly comfortable in Hillel and introduced me to the Reform community educator.

As an Afro-Latina and a member of the LGBTQ community, I always struggled to find my place within the Jewish community. With the support of the Reform community educator, I was able to find my place within the Rutgers Hillel Jewish community. My differences have been welcomed and celebrated and I have been given many opportunities to become a Jewish leader on campus.

This year, I’m a Hillel Engagement Intern. I spend my time introducing people to Hillel and providing them with the support that the community continues to show me. Hillel has impacted my college experience for the better. I have grown as a person, I became a stronger leader and I found my community. I hope that with my time left I can foster an environment on campus where everyone can feel like they belong at Hillel regardless of how much knowledge or involvement they have with Judaism and Jewish life.