Last Tuesday, I had a jam-packed day. Similar to many other college students you may talk to, I left my apartment at 9:00am and didn’t get back until 10:00pm. But my day was a little different than everyone else’s—my afternoon consisted completely of religious activities. I went from a Hillel Advisory Board Meeting straight to a Hillel Intern Meeting straight to our Interfaith Fellowship and then straight to the Anti-Semitism Town Hall Meeting. Honestly, my calendar looked a little daunting. Four meetings in one day- all talking about my Judaism? Won’t that be too much? To be honest, it didn’t even seem to faze me by the end.
I’ve been trying to reflect recently on what that is. How can I be so connected to my faith and never tire of it? How can I be so connected to my faith and still love talking and learning about other faiths? My most recent (although definitely not final) answer: community.
My entire life, I have grown up and been surrounded by powerful Jewish communities— something that has given me an endlessly strong support system and has had my back in times I didn’t even know I needed it. During the first week of the semester, us Interfaith Fellows went around and discussed family life—the religion we grew up with and the story of how our family shaped who we are today. The Jewish journey I shared was not unheard of: I went to a Jewish day school for 10 years, went to public school for the next 4, and now am here: a big public university with a large and wonderfully active Jewish community. As we shared, I noticed that most of the other Jewish fellows had similar stories—all surrounding the impactful Jewish communities they grew up in. None of us seemed to attribute our Judaism explicitly to our immediate family, but rather to the people within our larger communities.
This week in my Jewish Learning Fellowship, we discussed gratitude. It made me realize that gratitude often comes into a person’s life while they are reflecting. Well while writing this I am reflecting, so I am bound to get a little grateful ☺
CRGC Interfaith Fellows have helped me realize the little things in life are what makes all of us so invested in religion. For some of us fellows, religion (or its absence) is what brings up happiness in subtle, small ways that appear in our everyday lives. It helps us look at the big picture and see where we fit into it. It gives us time to reflect on who we are and where we came from. I am beyond grateful for the Jewish communities I have in my life. They have given me so much support, guidance, and friendships that will last a lifetime. They truly have provided me with unconditional acceptance that I am forever grateful for.