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Profile: Isabel Goodman

Full name: Isabel Mira Goodman

Major: Marketing and Finance

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Campus Activities: Leadership Development Honors Program, Alpha Phi Fraternity, Marketing Club, Blue Crew (Campus Tour Guides)

Year: Class of 2019

Although Seton Hall University is a Catholic Institution, Isabel Goodman, a Jewish student, has never felt uncomfortable or out of place. During this holiday season, Goodman will celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the people she loves, appreciating the High Holiday as she always does.

Her Campus (HC): How does it feel being a Jewish student on a Catholic campus?

Isabel Goodman (IG): When I decided on Seton Hall, a private Catholic University, I didn’t know what was in store for me. Coming from a public high school with many Jewish friends, I was definitely nervous about how different it would be. That being said, I have never once felt uncomfortable here. While the school is Catholic and there is a chapel on campus, it is the morals and values of a religious institution that is imposed upon the students, not the religion itself. Those values are beneficial to all regardless of religion. These positive traits allow the university to appeal to everyone on the campus.

HC: How will you celebrate Rosh Hashanah?

IG: I am fortunate enough to have a father that works for the Jewish Federation, a family that always strives to be proactive in the Jewish community, and a temple at home that cares enough to send me kind wishes as well as various gifts throughout the holidays and Rosh Hashanah is no exception. The Jewish New Year is a joyous holiday and I will be spending it with the people I love and practicing in a way I feel is appropriate for this High Holiday as I always do.

HC: What’s your favorite part about Seton Hall?

IG: My favorite part of Seton Hall is definitely the people here. Between my Leadership family, my sisters in Alpha Phi, and the other people I have met throughout my time here, I have made the best friends in the entire world. It is impossible to walk anywhere without seeing a familiar face and to me that is the best part about this campus. We are a smaller university and because of that, you get far closer to people than you would anywhere else.

HC: What’s your best advice for students who go to a Catholic school, but aren’t Catholic?

IG: My advice would be to be as open as you can about the experience. There is always something to learn about other religions, other cultures, and especially about yourself. I have gained so much valuable knowledge that I never would have had I not gone outside of my comfort zone and decided to attend Seton Hall.

HC: How do students of other faiths practice their religion on a Catholic campus?

IG: I know many students of other religions here and they all practice in different ways. Whether it is visiting their own place of worship or practicing in private, they all feel open enough to share their personal experiences with me. Seton Hall does not prohibit other religious practices and because of that, people of other religions feel comfortable to practice as they wish.

HC: Did the fact that Seton Hall was a Catholic school factor into your decision to come here?

IG: There were many factors that influenced my decision to come here, specifically the Leadership Development Honors Program which is ranked #1 in the nation for leadership programs. That being said, however, the only impact Catholicism had on my decision was the chapel we have that completely transforms the campus into something so much more beautiful, as well as the positive values the students not only accept, but practice every day.

HC: How do your beliefs conflict with course teachings?

IG: I have had nothing but positive experiences with my courses. I have personally taken two religious courses (Journey of Transformation and Catholic Social Teachings) and although they were grounded on Catholicism to a certain extent, the information I learned was not directed to Catholics only, but to the public as a whole. I have learned more than I could have imagined from these classes. Nothing that was taught was controversial, rather, it was informational and allowed me to look beyond separate religions and find the common thread between them all.

HC: Was there ever a time when you felt uncomfortable because you weren’t Catholic? If so, can you elaborate?

IG: Growing up Jewish, I have always witnessed the Christmas and Easter rush. My stepfather and 3 of my step-brothers are not Jewish and because of that, I have experienced these holidays, just not to the full extent had I not been Jewish. Seton Hall is known for their giant Christmas tree lighting ceremony that draws many thousands to campus and though I thought that familiar feeling of being slightly out of the loop would re-surface, especially at a Catholic university, it never did. With Easter as well, I thought it would happen, but in actuality it just gave me another break to go home and see my family which is hard to do when you live over 7 hours away.

HC: Are there any clubs you’re involved in on-campus for your religion?

IG: I was lucky enough to meet another Jewish student early on in my freshman year. She added me to the Facebook group she was a part of with the other Jewish students on campus. This group in the past has scheduled trips to the temple nearby on the holidays and has a strong relationship with a Rabbi in the area. I always look forward to the holidays because of this group and also because I know I have other Jewish students on this campus that are always there for me.

HC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

IG: I would just like to add that being Jewish does not separate you from your peers in any way. It is something to be proud of and something to practice as often and as seriously as you wish. I would never let it stop me from interacting with others to my full capacity. I have never been judged for who I am and I would never want anyone to feel any differently than I do. I have had such a positive experience at Seton Hall and I wish this on everyone else. It is all about being open and confident in who you are no matter what.


Rebecca White is a junior at Seton Hall University in New Jersey where she is majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Writing. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester of her college career and will graduate a semester early in December 2016. During her internships she has conducted celebrity and author interviews. Rebecca is a writer for her college newspaper, The Setonian, and is the Arts and Entertainment copy editor. She aspires to be a novelist while working in the publishing industry, either as a book editor or magazine editor.
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