Continuing my Jewish journey

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The Hillel Speaker Committee, including the author (5th from left) with 2013 speaker, Josh Radnor.
Coming to Northwestern, I always knew that the Jewish community would be an important part of my college experience. Judaism was important to me in high school, as I was a member of my local BBYO chapter, but I was unsure about the best way to continue my Jewish journey upon entering college. It didn't take long, however, for me to find multiple Jewish communities that welcomed me at Northwestern.

I got involved with NU Hillel almost immediately. As a freshman, I participated in the pre-orientation program at Hillel and joined the First-Year Students Board. Right away, I met some of my best friends at Northwestern. I later spent two years on the Hillel Executive Board, serving as treasurer and vice president. In these roles, I had the opportunity to manage a major budget, co-chair a committee that brought Josh Radnor and James Franco to speak to over 1000 Northwestern students, and create relationships between Hillel and various other campus organizations. Furthermore, I spent a couple of hours a week engaging in conversations with my peers about how to improve the Jewish community at Northwestern. While we focused on building our own community on campus, the major themes of those conversations will be applicable to any future Jewish community of which I become part. 

A second aspect of my Jewish life at Northwestern has been the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Prior to joining, I was fairly certain I wanted to become a member of a fraternity, but was unsure whether to join a Jewish one. But it turns out that joining AEPi was one of the best decisions I made at Northwestern. I became part of a brotherhood of around 75 Jewish men who shared the same Jewish values I hold, many of whom I know I will be close with for years to come. In AEPi, I spent a year as the vice president, with my primary role being to oversee all of the chapter's programming, including programs related to Judaism, community service, and philanthropy. In that role, I helped to plan AEPi Dog Days, an annual philanthropy to benefit Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization that supports Jewish young women and their families facing breast cancer. For a week, our chapter sells hot dogs across campus in order to raise money for the cause. Additionally, I organized a Passover Seder for our chapter and friends of the chapter that was attended by over 100 people. I am very grateful and proud of the impact I was able to make on the Jewish community thanks to my involvement in AEPi.

As I reflect back on my four years at Northwestern, it is impossible to understate the positive impact Judaism and the Jewish community in Evanston have had on my college experience, growth as a leader, and overall development as a person. I made some of my best friends through Hillel and AEPi, and I gained invaluable experience as a leader, both in working through challenges and achieving successes. As I prepare to graduate and continue my education at Northwestern Law School, I am both nervous and excited about the next step in my Jewish journey. However, thanks to my amazing four years immersed in Jewish community as an undergraduate at Northwestern, I am certain that my commitment to Jewish life and the Jewish community will only strengthen while I am in law school and throughout my life.

Andy Rodheim, a political science and economics double major, graduates from Northwestern University this month.

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