This is a guest post by Mike Neiman, Hillel and SAM alum, proud supporter of Hillel LIFE.
Unquestionably, these are the three things I was looking for when leaving for college back in 1999. Having grown up in the Twin Cities, and entering my undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, I will admit I was scared whether the UofM would meet those basic comforting needs. The school has 40,000 undergraduates, spans across 3 huge campuses, and houses freshman literally anywhere they can … in my eyes, this was going to be a long and lonely college experience in a sea of moving people.
But I support the University of Minnesota, its Hillel organization, and the Sigma Alpha Mu (SAM) Fraternity chapter today because immediately upon arriving, I had all the comfort of community, belonging, and continuity waiting for me. The day I arrived at my dorm, I had members of the SAM waiting to move me in. The following evening I had an open house barbecue at Hillel with hundreds of other Jewish students to meet. And throughout the next weeks, months, and years, I had a network of friends and family to help carve out a niche at the UofM for an unbelievable college experience.
Nearly 15 years later, I still remember how pivotal it was to have those support structures in place for me. Hillel was a natural extension of my synagogue and family culture, and SAM was a natural extension of my social youth group like USY or BBYO. For a new student coming to college, having these organizations in place can make the world a whole lot smaller, and although we may not admit it, this is exactly what we are hoping for. Thanks to Hillel and SAM at the University of Minnesota, the big scary world of 40,000 undergraduates became a familiar and comforting place of a couple thousand Jews and Greeks. I literally had a place to call my home … both rent out beds!
This is why I support Hillel today. To make sure that every incoming freshman in 2012 or 2050 has the same opportunity to find their sense of community, belonging, and continuity after leaving everything and everyone they know behind, and starting a brand new chapter of life. With organizations like Hillel and SAM in place, I know this will always be the case.
Filed Under: Jew To Do