Passover on Campus: Feeling the Rush of Making Judaism Our Own
My freshman year of college, I couldn’t afford the time or money to travel all the way home to Cleveland for Passover Seder with my family. Instead, I led Seder for a table-full of students at Hillel. I remember standing up to bless the first cup of wine and feeling the rush of making Judaism my own. When I switched my major from Biology to Religion later that year, my father, a crane mechanic and a Holocaust survivor, asked me, ‘what are you going to do with a major in Religion?’
By the time I graduated from college, I wanted to become a Hillel Director. Twelve years ago, fresh from rabbinical school, I fulfilled my dream by becoming the Executive Director at the Center for Jewish Life. Never could I have imagined the pure joy of seeing hundreds of students make Judaism their own each and every day.
Each student has his or own story, coming to college with a particular family background and set of Jewish experiences. I am proud that today, Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life is one of the strongest Hillels in the world. We are nationally recognized for our educational vision and for reaching 74% of Jewish undergraduates in deep and impactful ways. With all of our achievements, I know that the landscape of Jewish identity is changing and the CJL needs to work hard to better engage students with non-traditional backgrounds and limited Jewish experiences. I came to college ready to lead the Seder, but so many of our students do not even know how to ask the question.