Rutgers Hillel’s Jewish Peoplehood Project
By Keren Freydman, Class of 2018
Filling out my application for the Jewish Peoplehood Project last year, I had no idea what to expect. I had tried googling the project with no success – the program was in its first year, so there was no precedent to help me decide whether or not it was something I’d be interested it. Looking back, I’m so glad that I decided to try it, because the program turned out to be far more interesting and informative than I could have imagined.
Although there was a lot of learning about Jewish practices such as prayer, the meaning of Shabbat, the holidays, and other Jewish beliefs and values, I learned just as much from my peers as I did from the Rabbi leading the discussion. As a group, we talked about the significance of belonging to the Jewish people and explored the implications that this identity could have on us as individuals. Despite the fact that we all came from different backgrounds, had varying levels of observance and knowledge of Judaism, and differing ideas about faith and religion, we were still able to talk about core Jewish values and how they could apply to our daily lives. Although we each had different stories, we found that we could still relate to each other’s experiences of celebrating holidays with family, or being singled out for being Jewish, or trying gefilte fish for the first time.
The Jewish Peoplehood Project opened my eyes to the realization that Judaism can mean very different things to different people, but to all of us it means belonging to a welcoming and accepting community. Through our discussions, debates, and learning, we were able to establish a sense of unity and community despite our differences. A major takeaway from this experience was realizing that not only does our Judaism affect us as individuals, but that we also have the potential and a certain responsibility to have a positive impact on our communities. I also came away from the experience with a strong sense of curiosity and motivation to continue learning. The class enabled me to find a connection to Judaism and establish a foundation on which I can continue to build upon. I would definitely recommend the Jewish Peoplehood Project to anyone looking to get involved and explore their connection to Judaism.
You can apply today for the 2015 Jewish Peoplehood Project by clicking here!
Applications are due Friday, January 30th at noon.