Report from Campus--
Looking for Other Jews
Published in KOACH-ON-CAMPUS, Spring 2000
By Alan Halachmi
When I was looking at different colleges, I made a concerted effort to find a campus with, as my mother likes to call them, "nice Jewish girls." But now that I'm here, I can't seem to find any.
It isn't just girls that are the problem, it's Jews in general. I am sure that there are the ten or so who hang out in the Hillel building. But, the problem is that sometimes, it feels like they are the only Jews on campus.
My mother tells me that if I were to go to the Hillel, I might meet some "Members of the Tribe." I insist that there must be a way to meet other Jews outside of services and organized Hillel activities.
I guess I could try going to the Hillel, maybe then I can see if there's anyone I know. I could probably get a friend and go over there for Friday night services with me... Nah, what am I thinking? I'm sure that nobody will be there.
Anyway...I was talking with my mother today, she told me that there are more Jews here than I had claimed there to be. I don't see how she can be right. I mean, I am a sophomore and I felt like I haven't met any other Jews--especially Jews like me.
My mom bets me that her statistics on Jewish students are right. She insists that there are bunches of Jews here that I don't even know about. My mom's solution is to count the Jews that I see on a daily basis. She thinks that consciously thinking about people's religious affiliation will open my eyes to, what she believes to be the truth. I accept her bet, and the wager that comes with it.
In the meantime, I'm heading over to breakfast. I wonder how many I'll see there.
One... Two... Three... I guess that's as good a start for my little game. Let's see, anyone else . . . There's Rachel and Sarah over there, and David and Adam there. Oh Josh! I forgot about him. Maybe my Ima (mom) was right after all. Still, I leave breakfast for class confidently. I will run out of Jews to count soon enough and win the bet.
Just then, the most bizarre series of events began. I got into a bus to head over to class, and ran into an old friend.
"Sara B., Is that you?!"
Wow! I had not seen Sara since we went to Ramah!
"Sara, I didn't know that you were here! You are a freshman, right?"
Holy cow, this is way weird!
"Alan! How have you been? It's been a long time since Ramah."
No joke, I haven't seen her in years.
"Excuse me, did you say Ramah?" Boy do I hate eavesdroppers! "I went to Ramah, too. Which one did you guys go to?"
Sara decided she'd get this one for the both of us, "We went to Wisconsin, how about you?"
Then, at that moment, it seemed as though everyone came out of the woodwork.
"Poconos? I went to the Poconos!" Out of nowhere, this random guy walks up to us and begins talking about his camp experience. It couldn't have been more than a minute later when someone else chimed in, "Are you guys talking about Ramah? I went to Ramah in the Berkshires."
And then, yep, you guessed it, from the very back of the bus came this voice, "Did one of you say Berkshires? I went to that Ramah!" It was as if I had found the Camp Ramah tour bus. There we were, about six of the most random Jews you could have ever found in one place.
All of us Ramahniks decided to meet up again at the Hillel for Friday night services.
It seemed that my mother was going to win this bet. Nonetheless, I continued my counting. By the time I had gotten to the end of the day, I had counted well over 40 Jews who I see on a regular basis. Man, I hate when mom's right! So tomorrow we'll see the real count... I'm sure only ten will be at the Hillel, that's why I never bothered to go and check it out for myself before. Tie... check. Kipah... check. Hair... check.
Well, this is it, time to see. . . Holy cow! There are a lot more than ten other Jews here! I'm with my group, that's about six of us; just looking around I see at least another 50, or so. I guess mom was right. I'm definitely coming back here next week. How could I have been so wrong?
If these are only the Jews who show up at the Hillel, think how many more Jews are on campus with the same negative mentality as I had until a few days ago who aren't here at Hillel. Okay, so Ima is right. Hmm.... That's a whole bunch of "nice Jewish girls."
How could I have been so wrong about how many Jews are at this university? I guess that's not too important. What is important is that I'm at the Hillel now, and I can start meeting all of the people on campus who are like me.
[Rechecked for accuracy, 7/29/03]