Senior Year Reflection
By Aviv Alter, Class of 2015
“Want to check out Hillel tonight?”
It was the first Friday of my freshman year at Rutgers and my roommate Emily was hoping to escape our Busch campus suite.
“Sure,” I responded, “let’s go.”
Emily and I walked into the Rutgers Student Center Multipurpose Room to find hundreds of students sitting, laughing, eating, talking, reuniting. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun, I thought to myself.
We awkwardly stood in front of the room for a few moments, unsure of what to do next.
Emily and I sat down. We introduced ourselves to the people sitting next to us, engaged in uncomfortable small talk for a few moments, ate, and left.
I wish I could tell you that I met my best friends at my table that night. I wish I could say that evening marked the beginning of my involvement with Hillel and inspired me to become an active member of the Jewish community at Rutgers. I wish I could blush and share that Emily and I met our future husbands at our first Hillel dinner. Unfortunately, none of the above was the case. I left Shabbat dinner that night unsure if I would go back the following week.
Oh, how things have changed.
I will now be graduating Rutgers with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Hillel. This organization has become such an integral part of my college career. I’ve developed as a leader and grown as a person. I’ve become more knowledgeable, aware and curious about my Jewish roots. I’ve met my closest friends through this organization. I’ve become more politically aware and involved in regards to Israel. I’ve learned how to voice my opinion. I’ve learned how to ask questions. I’ve attended conferences across the country and traveled to Israel. I’ve managed thousands of dollars and planned campus-wide events. I’ve turned visions into reality. I’ve gained a community and a support system. I’ve recognized the incredible investment that Hillel puts into its students, and I’ve reaped the benefits.
After four years on the banks, I am leaving with nothing but positive memories, and I know that Rutgers Hillel has played a huge role in that.
Some parting words of wisdom? Do not underestimate what you can gain from Hillel. Whatever you’re looking for – religion, culture, spirituality, political involvement—is there, along with incredible staff and students. You just have to find it if it doesn’t find you first.
Don’t let your first Shabbat dinner be your last.