On a campus with 250 Jewish students, most of my friends never met a Jew before me.
“Growing up in Calabasas, California, I was accustomed to being surrounded by other Jewish students. But that wasn’t the case when I enrolled at Texas A&M. My Judaism would come up in conversations, and students would say, ‘That’s cool. So, being Jewish…what does that mean?’ Most of my college friends never met a Jew before meeting me. There are just under 70,000 students on campus, and only about 250 of them are Jewish. I wanted to get to know those 250 people. It was important for me to be able to connect with other Jewish students — other people who share the same traditions and customs as me. I became involved in Texas A&M Hillel during my freshman year, and because I’m a cadet, it’s also known as my ‘fish’ year. As ‘fish,’ we endure rigorous training. I wouldn’t have gotten through my ‘fish’ year without Hillel. Now, I’m halfway through my sophomore year, and I know almost every Jewish student on my campus. We make up a small percentage of students, but we’re a strong, tight-knit community. And because of that, it doesn’t feel so small.” — Andrew Kraut, Texas A&M University