Today is April 23, 2018 -

Student Engagement

My wife, Ilana, son Dov, and I were in the Passover aisle of Price Chopper a few days before the holiday when we happened upon a young woman, wearing an RPI sweatshirt, lost among the plethora of matzah-ball mix choices. She was on the phone with her mother who was trying to assist her. Ilana stepped in, helped with the matzah-ball mix, and invited the young woman to our Seders. Much to the delight of her mother, she came to both of our Seders with a couple of her RPI friends.

Last week, I attended a Hillel meeting at SUNYA. I learned from the students that they had interest in getting more involved with our local Jewish community, and they would be thrilled if community members would attend some of their big events. Therefore, I joined them on Monday night at their campus center to hear Yavilah McCoy, and I invited them to Federation’s program on Tuesday night at Congregation Beth Emeth to hear Chloe Valdary.

We have an estimated 5,000 young Jews living in our community and attending our colleges and universities, and except for a few of our professors, rabbis, and our Hillel and Chabad directors, we have almost no connection with them. Sure most of them are not from here and, unfortunately, not enough of them stay here, but while they are here, they are our kids. 

How often do we kvell at the tremendous impact that our local kids make on new communities when they land there? What kind of impact could the students attending our local colleges have on our community? With enough positive interactions today, maybe the kids might even stick around after graduation. 

I think that we should do all that we can to engage or risk missing a tremendous opportunity. 

Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York

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