Today is August 20, 2019 -
This Tuesday Ilana and I drove Jenny to the University of Rochester to begin her freshman year. We picked up her room key, dropped off her stuff, acquired her student ID, opened a bank account, and learned how to use the washing machines. After all of those things were in place, we went to the huge student expo to pick up literature and meet the representatives from the many clubs on campus. Jenny spoke at length with Rabbi Michael of Hillel, as well as Rabbi Asher of Chabad. She left the expo with calendars of all upcoming Jewish events.
On Wednesday morning, we met Jenny for coffee to hear about her first night. “I had an amazing night,” she boasted. Jenny and her roommate, Emily, a congregant of KB’s sister, Rabbi Michelle, met up with Josh, a friend of Emily’s from her Jewish communal high school. They were joined by Rachel, the daughter of our friend Hilton’s pal from Boston, and a half dozen other freshmen. “Out of curiosity, is anyone else in here Jewish?” Jenny asked. Yup, all ten. Jenny pulled out her Hillel calendar and said, “Let’s all have dinner together at Hillel Friday night. It will be so much fun if we’re all together.”
While this was all very exciting for me on Wednesday morning, it just got better. I spoke with Jenny a few minutes ago to confirm story details, and she shared that the group gathered for challah baking at Hillel last night. They added a few more members, made their Shabbat dinner plans, and committed to the sushi night at Chabad next week.
I don’t believe in coincidence. While there are never guarantees, I think that our chances of being in favorable circumstances increase significantly with strategic and methodical actions. We know statistically, if not anecdotally, which childhood experiences lead to Jewish connectivity. Which Jewish activities brought Jenny to Emily, Josh, Rachel, Hillel, Chabad, and the rest of her new group? Was it working at the JCC for the past two years? Was it working in the synagogue nursery school? Was it her Jewish youth group experience? Was it her Jewish camp experience? Was it her Jewish education? Was it one of her four trips to Israel? Was it her Jewish family life?
I do not pretend to have all of the answers. I am merely a proud father, pleased with the circumstances. As I am fond of saying, life may be a game of craps, but in this game, I will continue to weight the dice.