My entire family is Jewish, but my close family is not very religious (sporadically attend synagogue on the High Holidays, do not speak or read Hebrew, do not observe the Sabbath, etc.). I am going to college in Boston next year, and I really want to become more active in my religion and embrace my culture. Any advice on how I can join the Jewish community? As a “beginner”, so to say, is it too late for me? Thank you!

 

It is never too late to get involved in the Jewish community. Individuals find their way in and out of the community throughout their lives, given their own personal experiences. I think it is terrific you are thinking about jumping in!

created at: 2012-05-22There are many ways to explore the Jewish community, and college campuses are well designed to help with that.  First and foremost, if your campus has a Hillel, try it out. Get to know the students who are a part of it, have coffee with the Hillel professionals and talk to them about your interests, or try out the various services, meals, and events that they host. Hillel is a wonderful place to gain understanding on the many pathways that one can travel in his or her Jewish journey.

Another way to explore your Jewish roots is by going on a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel. If you’ve never been to Israel before, this is the way to go. This is a free ten-day trip that you can take during a school vacation. These are amazing opportunities to travel with peers and learn about our heritage and sacred sites.

Finally, Boston has many great opportunities for people in their young adult years to engage in Jewish life. Check out an event put on by CJP or many of the other organizations that offer gatherings for young adults. Many of these groups list their events on JewishBoston.com, so check back here often. Whether you’re looking for a place to celebrate holidays, meet new people, learn about Israel, or explore Jewish culture, there’s always something to try out!

Our tradition has a saying “When you find yourself a teacher, you acquire a friend.” Congrats on starting that search for learning about your Jewish roots. I hope you acquire many new friends along the way as you learn about how Judaism can be a vibrant and meaningful part of your life.

 

created at: 2012-05-13Rabbi Neil Hirsch is a rabbi at Temple Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Newton. Follow Rabbi Hirsch on Twitter as @nehirsch.

 

If you want to familiarize yourself with the basics before taking that first step into Hillel or a Jewish community event, InterfaithFamily’s booklets and cheat sheets (Jewish Holidays, Jewish Foods, and Jewish Greetings) are a great resource — and don’t be fooled by the website’s name: they’re a great resource for everyone interested in learning more about Judaism!