Compiled by Evan Traylor
A few weeks ago, more than 50 NFTY alumni from all over North America came together to reconnect, share experiences, and learn from one another about succeeding in college and getting connected to Jewish life.
Below are several reflections from participants on the inaugural NFTY Alumni in College – Back to School Online Hangout:
Bari Goldman – Junior, Indiana University
I’m at a turning point in my college career and looking for any advice I can on what to pursue when I graduate. I felt it was really helpful to hear from a panel of my peers and from Jewish professionals about their perspective. It was also great to even hear the voices of some old camp friends and what’s happening in their college lives.
Hannah Elbaum – Freshman, Smith College
I am fascinated by how people with the same or similar high school Jewish experiences as me are all are working to maintain Jewish involvement, but that it manifests itself in different ways. Some love music and use that as a method to bring people into a Jewish community. People channel their frustration with anti-Israel movements into joining Jewish and pro-Israel communities. Almost everyone associates food with their Jewish involvement. While I am not abandoning the religious aspect of my Jewish identity, the one I am choosing to focus on right now is intellectual and knowledge-based in the classroom. I enjoy having Jewish friends who have similar memories of Jewish camp and ruach-filled song sessions, and who understand my intention to live a life guided by chesed (loving-kindness) and avoid lashon hara (the evil tongue-speaking unkindly about someone else). It’s important to remember that you do not have to justify how you choose to engage with your Jewish identity, but hearing about how other people find connection is always valuable and help spark ideas of how you choose to be Jewish in college.
Harrison Bleiberg – Junior, Emory University
The webinar covered a wide range of topics applicable to any Jewish college student. College students from all over the world shared tips for being a better Jew and finding a Jewish community in college.
Hannah Bass – Senior, Rider University
When I graduated from NFTY I wasn’t sure how I was going to stay involved. I had befriended many people during my high school years and found multiple posts about NFTY Convention 2015 and quickly applied to be a Resident Advisor, because why not enjoy a chance to be back with NFTYites in the best setting ever?! On the first day of Convention I was part of a focus group and I realized that many other college students are facing similar struggles, including getting people involved in Hillel, being an active Jew on campus, and adjusting to college life in general.
From the Online Hangout, I took away that NFTY is ready to help its alumni connect more while we are all facing similar dilemmas. The ability to jump in and contribute at times was also a great experience, especially when addressed to answer a question specifically. The call was something I was looking forward to for days and I am thankful for the incredible community that NFTY has given me during my high school years and as an alumna. I can’t wait to see what programing is next in store!
Be sure to check out the NFTY Alumni Website for more information on upcoming events and to stay connected with your NFTY community.