I grew up as a Conservative Jew. In my town, there were not very many Jews, and even fewer who observed any holidays. Going to public school, I was always seen as very religious and answered any questions my classmates had, with only one other classmate sharing the role. Around holidays, my parents or his parents would come to explain the holiday. At Chanukah time, we would make edible dreidles out of Hershey's Kisses, marshmallows, peanut butter and a pretzel stick.
Looking back on these experiences, I am proud to have taught people about
Judaism and to have learned about it myself in such a fun and positive way.
I feel that experiences like these built a strong foundation for the positive
way I think about Judaism. Some of my friends who were Jewish from my
public school would only go to synagogue a few times a year, and would dread it.
I would go often, almost every Saturday. I really enjoyed it because I could see
all my friends from Hebrew School who I didn't see during the week. It was
like living in two worlds. I had my friends from school and my friends
from Hebrew School. I liked surrounding myself with a lot of different
people, and learning about other people's traditions. It was also really
fun to teach people about my own life. I feel that it is our duty as Jews
to teach others in order to prevent intolerance. The more you know, the
more you understand and hopefully, the less willing you are to hate.
When I started looking for colleges, it was very important to me to find somewhere with a strong Jewish community. I even considered majoring in Judaic Studies, because I knew I wanted Judaism to always be a part of my life. This need was rooted in my belief that a strong Jewish education is essential way to keep traditions and culture alive. I decided on Binghamton University, where I could have a very strong Jewish community, a good education and a very diverse student body where I could learn about other cultures and teach about my own. It was odd coming into Binghamton where the Jewish life is so strong and thriving compared to my public school experience. Since coming to college, I have encountered many different types of Jews and have realized how much more there is to learn. I feel that now is the time to take all that I know about Judaism one step further. I love being in an environment where I will be able to get answers to my questions and hopefully answer some for others as well.
Eve Rickles-Young is a sophomore at Binghamton University. She is studying French and hopes to conquer all 50 states in the next 10 years (17 to go!).