It’s been a jam-packed 24 hours here in St. Louis. Our group has quickly meshed and has taken on a unique identity of its own. Today’s sessions concentrated around the theme of Jewish identity – and took the forms of group discussions on pluralism and dispelling myths and stereotypes associated with Jewish denominations; Jewish education and teaching individual learners; and ensuring the continuity of Jewish 20-somethings once they leave the comfortable bubble of the college campus.
During our meeting with Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow over at the St. Louis (Washington U) Hillel House, I identified strongly with the questions he posed to our group regarding how to keep Jewish identity alive during the prime 20 & 30-something years when we begin (and continue!) to question our Jewish identities and start on that all-important search for the suitable spouse/life partner. I left the Hillel house with an understanding that it is up to us, as the next generation of Jewish educators to find solutions (and creative ones at that) that will encourage students and life-long learners who have graduated from college to keep their Jewish identities strong and intact. Providing physical space and money isn’t enough of a solution to ensure that Jewish identity will remain alive, rather, empowering students to learn skills and tools of the trade that can be taken beyond the borders of campus will ensure that they will enter the adult world as a confident Jewish individual.
As Shabbat draws near, the air is growing thick with anticipation (and humidity). The next 25 or so hours are sure to be amongst the most spiritual, intense and beautiful that I have experienced. I look forward to sharing these thoughts with you in the new week. Shabbat Shalom from Wash U!