Ivy Kaplan is born and raised in St. Louis Park, active in USY and at Temple Israel. She just finished her freshman year at American University where she’s a journalism major with an international studies minor. Zoë Harvey was born in Dallas, moved to Shakopee where her family still lives, and had very little connection to the Jewish community until moving to campus at the University of Minnesota. She’s majoring in technical writing and minoring in entomology.
This summer, their two different perspectives on everything should make for a more colorful TC Jewfolk. So, Who The Folk are Ivy and Zoë?
Zoë, you mentioned that you didn’t grow up in an active Jewish household. How is it getting connected with it in college?
Z: It’s bizarre. It feels like you’re pretending half the time, even though I know I’m Jewish, but a lot of people growing up didn’t know what that was. It’s different. I’ve gone to a few Jewish events at the U and it’s been really fun, but no one knows who I am. Most of the Jewish people are from here, it’s not the biggest community, but there’s a Jewish fraternity and Hillel, and I’ve been to some stuff with them. It’s fun, but I just had no idea about any of it until I moved up there.
Ivy you grew up more immersed in the community. What’s it like to moving away after being that tied in?
I: At college I’ve definitely taken a break from a lot of Jewish stuff. It’s weird finding a new community after growing up in the Twin Cities where it’s so interconnected and you can’t go anywhere without knowing someone, even when you’re trying to hide from people. But it’s been cool to meet new people and do new Jewish things and hear about other people’s experiences like going to camps, not just Herzl or Ramah. I’ve liked it a lot.
The schools you each chose are very different in size (American has about 8,000 undergraduate students, Minnesota more than 30,000). Was that something you were each looking for in the experience?
Z: I wanted a big school so I could have all the options in the world. It doesn’t feel all that big when you’re there. There are so many research opportunities that I really liked, and I didn’t even know about the Jewish community until I got there and was living across the street from Chabad. There was Goldie Gopher holding a Star of David. My family is pretty far removed from the Jewish community, so it was so different going on my own to events. I hadn’t done anything in forever. Where I live, you’d have to drive I-don’t-know-how far to go to see other Jewish people.
I: I wanted a smaller school, with smaller classes, but I didn’t want to be isolated somewhere. American is a perfect fit for me because it’s not huge, but it’s in D.C. there’s all this stuff going. Especially for journalism, there so many internship opportunities.
Yet you came home to be here.
I: Yet I came home. This is probably going to be my last summer in Minnesota for a while, but I’m not going to give it up just yet. I love Minnesota in the summer.
But I went to American and I didn’t know there was a big Jewish population there. So when I got there it was nice, especially during welcome week. Hillel would put on events and that was a good base I could go to when it got scary and I didn’t know anyone.
What are you hoping to get out of your summer experience with us?
I: I’m excited to meet even more people in the Jewish community and branch out more.
Z: I want to know more about Jewish stuff, so what better way than to dive head-first into a Jewish organization. Learn some Hebrew maybe.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I: I like hanging out with friends, biking, running. I like hanging out at the lakes. I’m trying to read more now that I don’t have so much school work.
Z: I’m a hobby entomologist, so I like to catch bugs and classify them. That’s a typical weekend. I love movies too. I live near the St. Anthony-Main so I can walk over there whenever I want to.
Favorite Jewish food:
I: I really like matzah toffee. Or matzah ball soup.
Z: I like matzah ball soup too. I like hamentaschen too. I had never had them before.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
Z: Hanukkah was the only one I celebrated growing up, so that’s mine by default. I knew about some others, so how much can I celebrate.
I: I like Hanukkah too, especially in Minnesota when it’s pitch black at 5 o’clock and you light the candles. But I also like Rosh Hashanah because everyone comes together. It’s not a sad holiday like Yom Kippur and you can eat. I love those honey sticks they give out at synagogue.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!