Being A Jew At Not-So-Jewish Miami University

Being A Jew At Not-So-Jewish Miami University

"If you're a Jew, why don't you wear the big black hat?"
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"If you're a Jew, why don't you wear the big black hat?"

Since coming to Miami University, I've actually been asked this question multiple times. Being a Jew at Miami is really different from being a Jew from the Northern suburbs of Chicago. Where I grew up, I spent every weekend of seventh grade at multiple Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and here, people don’t even know what those are. Where I grew up, there are temples in every town; here, well, have you ever seen a temple in Oxford? Where I grew up, we don’t have school on major Jewish holidays. Here, that’s not the case.

Coming to Miami, I knew the Jewish community wouldn’t be as large as Chicago’s, but I knew it existed. I just had to find it. Luckily, there are great programs here that help Jews get back to their roots during their crazy college lives. At Miami, we have both Chabad and Hillel, which are organizations aimed at bringing Jews together on college campuses.

I’m so grateful for both of these amazing organizations. I haven’t been to Hillel very much yet, but I’ve made great friends from the few times I’ve gone and I plan to get more involved in the future. I’ve been more involved with Chabad, and I absolutely love attending Chabad events. The family who runs Chabad at Miami is now like family to me, and they would do anything to help Miami students feel more at home.

There’s a great program run by the Chabad rabbi called Sinai Scholars, where students can apply to come to a group meeting once a week. At Miami, Rabbi Yossi Greenberg ran Sinai Scholars, and it was an amazing experience for me. Through this program, I met some great people and learned so much about Judaism and how my own thoughts of Judaism can sometimes be so different from other people. We played games, had discussions, watched videos, and went on field trips. It was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t be more thankful I was able to be involved.

On the first day of Sinai Scholars, we talked about what it meant to be Jewish. We talked a lot about how being Jewish makes us a part of a huge family. After hearing this, I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. We talked about how seeing a fellow Jew on campus is exciting, and to me, it’s true. Seeing another Jew on campus makes Miami feel more like home to me.

As odd as it might sound, coming to college was a very eye-opening experience for me religiously. Just like many people have told me they’ve never met a Jew before, one of my best friends at Miami is Mormon, and before her, I don’t think I’d ever met a Mormon before.

Miami is so diverse, and it has helped me become more aware of how our differences are actually kind of similar. I’m proud to be Jewish in a not-so-Jewish community, and I will continue to share my knowledge of Judaism with others, as well as expand my knowledge of the other religions practiced around me.

Cover Image Credit: Stephanie Birnbaum

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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I've Never Been to Church, but I Believe in a Greater Being

Written during an existential crisis

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I was raised without religion - not necessarily as an atheist but just had never been involved with a church or any church's teachings. This wasn't particularly any decision on my own part, just how life unfolded from my background. An issue that I've constantly struggled with, as early as when I was in first grade, is how life came to be. Quite often, I've had strong, mentally burdening existential crises land on me - possibly because of the lack of religion in my life. When these crises happen, I think often of religion, and in the possibility of a greater being.

Though I've never spent a day in my life at Church, I've developed my own beliefs in a greater being over the years.

The main reason for this is the irrationality of life. There is no proven explanation for how we came to be. Though we can trace back to a certain point - such as how our person, continent, world, planet, solar system was created, there comes a point when we can't explain any further. Everything comes from something. The first cell split into two cells, which continued to split. But what could have caused the first cell? What could possibly have caused something to come from nothing? There are theories that attempt to explain this, such as a disturbance in the blank universe which created the first cells. But, what caused this disturbance? This is something that I'll never be able to prove or even to wrap my head around.

Beyond this, there are so many other parts in our existence that don't make sense or can't be explained. For instance, in quantum physics, particles will split apart for no apparent reason, but when you put a camera up to watch the particles up close (all factors remaining the same), the particles no longer split. Also, there have been proven variations in the most basic physics laws, such as gravity. But no explanation to explain these small 'mistakes'.

For me, I've considered religion to explain these, and I've also considered conspiracy theories such as the simulation theory. The simulation theory and religion share the idea of a greater being - of a creator. Though I haven't had much experience with religion, I can explain the idea of a creator through the simulation theory. In a nutshell, the simulation theory argues that we are in a simulation - the being simulating our world could be in a completely different universe - perhaps different dimensions, different rules of physics, etc. Whatever their world is, it could be something that we can't even fathom - and it could also be a universe that does make perfect sense. Our universe is riddled with mystery and confusion - what if the greater being's world is one that isn't? To think of this, imagine how in a 2D world, the people living in it would never be able to fathom what it's like to live in a 3D world - what we take for granted. In the same way, we may not fathom what it's like to live in an elevated life. If it's likely that we'll ever be able to simulate life, then we ourselves could be living in simulated life (since that technology can exist). This could offer an explanation for our existence, but we would never know. A similar explanation could also be made with religion.

I read an amazing metaphor for believing in a greater being. Imagine when you were first conceived, and living in the belly of your mother for months. At this point (assuming hypothetically that you're conscious), you would have no idea what's to come next. You may believe that birth is death - it's bringing you into something you've never experienced, and you may think this means disappearing. However, you take a leap of faith and you soon find that birth, in fact, leads you to a new chapter of a life. But of course, you would never have known when you were in the womb, where all you knew was what you were experiencing.

It never hurts to have faith. It grounds you and can help you through rough existential crises. Whatever for the reason for our existence, we most likely will never actually find out - possibly in the afterlife, but no one has lived to tell the tale.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and musing with me during this existential crises.

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