“My mom was raised Jewish and my dad was raised half Catholic/half Protestant, but before they met they both decided religion wasn't for them. So my brother and I weren't really raised with anything except the freedom to explore if we wanted to, and I knew I wanted to explore my Jewish identity. That was something that I was looking for when I came to Brown, but I wasn't really sure how that would take shape, and then I happened to fall into Hillel. I don’t consider myself very religious but I am a strong culture Jew, so the holidays are more about time to reflect and spend time with family and less about praising god.
Hillel has been a really opening and welcoming space in that there is room for those looking for that deeply religious and deeply spiritual experience, but there are also people like me who just want a place to just be Jewish the way that they see that and where they can define that, and that’s a space that is not only made at Hillel but is constantly reevaluating itself and trying to be more opening and welcoming. It’s a space that I've been very thankful for and a space during probably one of the hardest semesters I had at Brown that I knew I could turn to if I needed it. My Hillel relationship started at the first Queer Alliance meeting of my freshman year when the leader of Queer Hillel (now renamed Jew Q) at the time, was a junior and was ready to pass on the group. I approached him and said I was vaguely interested and would like to see where it goes, and I thought I was just signing up to be a member, but within 2 weeks he passed on the group to me. And so as a freshman, I was sort of thrust into this role that I had to figure out what I wanted from it and what I thought other people wanted from it and that was a real learning experience for me. It also meant that I made some really strong personal and professional connections that will last beyond my time at Brown. My leadership role also opened the door for me to branch out from Queer Hillel and take on other positions at Hillel in other ways. Now, I have my favorite title, an amorphous “student leader” who is just around, and knows the ropes, but doesn't have any specific current obligations. My involvement is really on my own time and allows me to dive into things when my schedule allows, which is a great place to be in.”