My Involvement in Jewish Life on Campus

March 6, 2014
BY Rachel Brustein

Having grown up at a Reform Jewish summer camp and in the Reform movement’s youth group NFTY, I knew Jewish life was something I wanted to hold onto in college. I attended the first Shabbat dinner of my freshman year, where I met peers who have become my close friends, and was motivated to apply to be on Goucher Hillel’s student board.

I began as co-Shabbat chair with another girl who had also been raised in the Reform community. Together, we learned about making Shabbat a pluralistic and accommodating experience for students who practiced their Judaism to varying degrees. I have come a long way since the beginning of my college experience in terms of working to make Hillel an inclusive, pluralistic space for students from a variety of Jewish backgrounds, from secular and cultural to Modern Orthodox.

This year, as religion chair, I have worked to make connections between Jewish values and human values. Recently, we brought in Rachel Laser, the deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a Washington, D.C., organization that does a plethora of social justice work for many groups of people.

Being involved with Jewish life on campus has forced me not only to learn about, but also to interact with Jews from different places and denominations, and I am grateful for this. Having a leadership position has allowed me to explore new things such as leading songs at Reform services.

Hillel has opened my eyes to what the meaning of pluralism is and taught me how to work with a team.

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