My name is Sami Simon, and I am so excited to be joining the Youth Initiatives
team as a Lewis Summer Intern.
myself, I am an incoming junior at the University of Iowa. I grew up in Buffalo
Grove, IL and I have lived there my whole life. From a young age, I began my
Jewish journey by attending Hebrew school for many years where I prepared for
my Bat Mitzvah. After my Bat Mitzvah, I went on the 8th grade
Chicagoland teen trip to Israel, otherwise known as IsraelNow. My short time in
Israel quickly impacted my Jewish Identity. In high school, I began
participating in youth groups like BBYO and NCSY which helped me create
lifelong friendships and connections. My senior year I served as the president
of my NCSY chapter, a very rewarding leadership role, after spending 2 more
summers in Israel. On top of that, I took advantage of the opportunities that I
found through Springboard, and I went on 3 different school break trips to New
York City, Tampa, and Los Angeles. These once in a lifetime experiences have
helped me feel extremely connected to my Jewish roots and values.
school, I knew that I wanted to stay connected to the Jewish community
throughout college. Before beginning college, I was extremely nervous about
finding my place because of the relatively small Jewish population in Iowa,
which was something that I was not used too. Sure enough, I found the Hillel on
campus which basically serves as my second home. I have loved connecting with
the amazing staff, and other students, who have made my experience and truly gave
me a sense of belonging. I have continued to increase my participation with
Hillel by going to programs, weekly Shabbat meals, serving on the student
board, holding a position as an ambassador for Iowa Hillel, and much more.
Growing up, I
wish I knew that there is a place in Judaism for everyone. There is not just
one way to “be Jewish” and that is the beauty of it. As a Lewis Summer Intern,
I am hoping to share this message and help others find their path on their Jewish
journey. I want to continue to build my connection to Judaism as well as the
Jewish community who makes all this possible.
About the Author: Sami Simon is
a junior at the University of Iowa where she majors in Education Studies and