“I grew up going to a secular, humanist, Jewish Sunday school but other than that, my engagement with Judaism was limited to celebrating holidays with my family. The summer before I got to Brown, I met a rising senior who told me that the Reform minyan at Hillel was great and I should go. I got a friend to go with me and it turned out it was a lovely community full of people who were open and friendly. What really made me want to come back though, was that I didn’t know anything that was going on and I really wanted to learn.
One thing let to another and I ended up being in charge of that community, which has been wonderful because being able to continue that welcoming spirit has been really valuable to me. As part of creating a welcoming environment at Hillel I noticed that there weren’t a lot of people who didn’t identify as a white, Ashkenazi, American Jews. I talked with the Rabbi and we created the Jews of Mixed Identity (J-MI) group which is a safe space to discuss and explore having multiple identities. My mother is Jewish and and my father is not. My mother is white and my father is Asian. It’s been nice to have a group of people who have similar experiences, and hopefully J-MI has been able to provide that for others. I also think that being involved in the Jewish community in college has completely changed my view on organized religion. When I explain my Judaism to people I say I’m religious but not spiritual, because what I value most is community, mentorship and the idea that wherever you go, there’s always going to be a group of people ready to accept you simply because you have this connection of being Jewish. My concentration in religious studies and my involvement in Hillel are what’s leading me to think about graduate study in religion or pursuing another means of engaging intellectually with Judaism. I don’t think that’s something I thought you could do before I got here, engage with religion in an intellectual way, because I had always just associated Judaism with culture and holidays. Being involved here at Brown and here at Hillel has really broadened my horizons when it comes to Judaism.”