“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 always talked about her experiences on campus and with Syracuse Hillel, and over time, that made me fall in love with the school.
“As I neared the college application process, my family brought me to a Syracuse Hillel seder in The Dome, the university’s athletic stadium. Knowing there was this big, vibrant Jewish family on campus made me want to go to Syracuse even more. When I got my acceptance letter, I was so excited. I was ready to make my family proud. I ended up bringing them to Hillel my freshman year. Introducing my family to Jewish students and Hillel professionals was such an exciting moment. Seeing how they connected with everyone reaffirmed that this campus was the right community for me.” — Arielle Cohen, Syracuse University ’22
“When I went to Syracuse University, Hillel used to hold services and events in the basement of a campus chapel. Now, more than 30 years later, my daughter Arielle is a student at Syracuse. Through her, I’ve been able to see how much the campus has grown to support Jewish students. So many older students have taken her under their wing, and as a mom, that has been so reassuring and comforting. When I talk to Jewish parents about campus life at Syracuse, I always tell them, ‘Don’t worry. Hillel will always be an open and welcoming place for your child. For years, Hillel has been there for my family.’” — Merri Cohen, Syracuse University ’89
As told to Jordan Greene, writer for the Hillel International Writers Program.