I grew up in a town where we were one of the only Jewish families. I didn’t have Jewish friends in school, and we didn’t have a synagogue in town. This meant that much of what I practiced was with my family at home. When I went away to college, I was overwhelmed by how many fellow Jewish students I was meeting. There were times where I would pass a rabbi walking to class and I made so many friends that I could bond with over our Jewish faith. This has helped me open up more to my cultural practices, learn what my other friends do, and even help others explore and strengthen their Judaism. Coming home from school, I felt an even stronger sense of what it meant to be Jewish.
I’ve had many wonderful experiences through Jewish programs at Penn State including Homemade Shabbat dinners on Friday nights, the giant menorah lighting at Old Main during Hanukkah, and helping others connect with Israel. I look forward to many more wonderful experiences next school year, as well as taking my birthright trip. I feel like the Jewish experiences I have had so far in college have helped me connect more with my religion, as well as others who are Jewish — and having fun while doing so!