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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Colby chapter.

I am Jewish. I went to Hebrew school, I had a bat mitzvah, I’ve been to Israel. I’ve complained to my mom about having to go to temple, I’ve complained to my mom about having to keep Passover, I’ve complained to my mom about fasting on Yom Kippur. I love lighting the menorah at Hanukkah, I love hearing the story about Esther and Hamish during Purim, and I love spending time in the sukkah during Sukkot. Even though there have been things I’ve loved about being Jewish, I have never fully embraced being Jewish until my sophomore year at Colby.


When I was in high school, my temple always threw events for high school students in the community to come together and hang out. I went to one event during my four years. It was full of kids who loved being Jewish and celebrating that Jewishness with other kids similar to them. I never felt fully a part of that community. I was shy and awkward, and never able to break in to that community of Jewish teenagers. It was partly because I never felt the need to be friends with these people. I had my best friends at school and I went to temple about five times a year with my family. I considered that enough to still hold the title of “Jew”.


It was the same when I first came to Colby. At the club fair during orientation week, of course I signed up for Hillel. I was a Jew after all. However, after that one time I signed up for the club, I essentially forgot about the fact that I was Jewish. I deleted all of Hillel’s emails, often without reading them, and, much to my mom’s chagrin, I didn’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur or Passover. I celebrated Hanukkah, but only because my mom was kind enough to send me a few presents. I didn’t even light the menorah. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of being a Jew, I was just focused on making friends and connecting with people. A lot of people couldn’t connect to the Jewish side of me, so I ignored it in favor of creating a life at Colby.


However, all of that changed my sophomore year. I had one good friend who was Jewish, and we randomly decided to go to Rosh Hashanah at the temple. The rabbi at the temple teaches at Colby, and a lot of Colby students were there too. It was really nice to be surrounded by familiar prayers and routines. I already knew that the semester was going to be a stressful one, so this small piece of my childhood soothed me more than I thought it would. The following months, I started to read more of the emails sent by Hillel and attend some more of the events offered, like Thai and Torah.


The real turning point for me was going to Passover Seder. Passover fell on the same weekend as Easter, so almost all of my friends were going home to celebrate either holiday. On an impulse, I decided to go to the Hillel seder with a few of my friends. It was the best decision I made. For me, it was amazing to be able to recite the prayers and hear the story of Passover, which I had been hearing every year for the past eighteen years, my freshman year of college being the first time I had ever missed a seder. The entire ceremony reminded me so much of home, and also reminded me how I much I missed engaging in Jewish activities. It offered me a sense of comfort and familiarity that I hadn’t realized I had needed, and it was the perfect solution to the stress in my life. I hadn’t realized that I actually enjoyed Judaism until I realized that the absence of it my freshman year had left some kind of void in my life. Colby helped me realize that the Jewish community is a special place and that I should embrace my Jewishness. I don’t have to attend every single Hillel event, but now I know I have a place that welcomes me and feels like home even in the most stressful of times.


Maddie is a sophomore at Colby College and is majoring in Biology and minoring in Chinese. She is a member of the Colby women's squash team. She lives in Newton, and is an obsessive Red Sox fan. Maddie loves reading psychological thrillers and watching crime shows, including but not limited to Criminal Minds, White Collar, and Brooklyn 99. She enjoys hiking and one day dreams of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.
Sydney is a senior at Colby originally from Wilmette, Illinois. She is a German Studies and English double major with a concentration in creative writing. On campus, Sydney is a COOT leader, member of Colby Dance Company, barista in the Mary Low Coffee House, a language assistant, and president of Colby's chapter of HC. When she isn't working, dancing, or writing, you can probably find her laughing at her own jokes or talking about the Midwest.