In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Sammy Kasselman shares how thankful she is for the Jewish community she found for herself through Hillel was. While transitions are hard for everyone, finding people who make us feel at home make everything easier. Whether it is going from 8th grade to high school, starting at a new camp, attending an after-school club for the first time, or graduating high school and starting college, the Jewish community is there for you.
Researchers say the greatest determinant of Jewish continuity is having a Jewish community. Although it took me until college to find one; I couldn’t be happier that I finally did.
A few weeks after I attended the Freshman Shabbat Dinner at Hillel, I realized that I had a special connection with the girls I sat with. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t FaceTime someone after one conversation. But this time I didn’t even think twice as I put my high school’s motto to the test and truly embraced the awkward. I FaceTimed these 3 girls because I couldn’t wait to tell them I found an open dorm room on their floor and I was moving in. I still remember them sprinting down the hall to show me how close my room would be to theirs. While this was touching, I still had no idea how close we would become as friends.
As weekly Shabbat dinner attendees for 2 years now, I can confidently say Hillel’s activities fostered a connection amongst my friends that runs deeper than just shared experiences and circumstance. When the year gets busy and schoolwork takes over our week, Hillel feels familial in a way nothing else does. Not only did I learn new things and meet new people, but I also found a space to express myself authentically. From stealing challah from all the tables at Shabbat dinner to playing games at the Purim carnival and volunteering to educate students on Jewish genetic screening, Hillel has provided me a community that role models healthy relationships and strong leadership.
I’m now going into my junior year and I am counting down the days until I move into a house with all my best friends. Between our plans to decorate the attic to more games of ‘Set’ (A great card game) to hosting our own Shabbat dinners, I truly cannot wait to see what the year has in store for us.
Are you interested in finding a Jewish community on your college campus? Check out College Road Trip a Springboard School Break to tour Jewish life on college campuses this Spring.