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Photo taken by Nate Swanson | For The Post

Advice for Jewish freshmen

Published August 15, 2022

Haddy the Hebrew: Unsolicited Advice for Incoming Jewish Students

By Hadass Galili | For The Post

I was in your place not too long ago and it was scary. I grew up in the large Jewish community of the greater Cleveland area, which I know some of you are coming from. Coming to Athens with a much smaller Jewish community was honestly a culture shock. I really was at a loss with what to do with myself for so long. So, this is just a bit of unsolicited advice for first year students who will be in the same position I found myself in three years ago.

My first piece of advice is to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable, don’t try to remedy it immediately. The discomfort you feel is normal and honestly very healthy. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself. Use this feeling to do some reflection. Why are you uncomfortable? Is it because you are lonely? You don’t feel like you have anyone you can relate to? Do you miss the community you grew up in? Once you have narrowed down what is causing you discomfort, you can begin to find something in Athens that will nurture your soul.

Find your people. Yes, I mean find other Jewish students. Even if all your best friends back home aren’t Jewish, I promise you will appreciate having someone who shares your background. It can be so grounding to find individuals who are like you, especially on a campus where very few people are Jewish. In the moments when you feel isolated you will be so thankful to know that you have friends who know exactly what you’re feeling. You will find your transition to be much less painful.

Get involved. Not just on campus, but everywhere. In the Jewish National Fund, in the Jewish Federation of your town, in any camp that people in your area attend. You might not be aware of all of the opportunities that are available to Jewish students, but there are actually so many. (I am actually writing this while at a conference that was essentially free! How crazy is that!) Once you start, you will find so many other students all over the country and the world that are interested in the same things you are. I promise that you’ll be amazed at the things you learn and the people you meet.

Be proud. Be so proud of who you are. Because who you are is amazing, and a semi-rare breed at OU. The truth is that you’re special. I hope you know that. You are so special and OU is so blessed to have you. Make your voice heard, share what you know, be a pillar of the Jewish community. You can be a real inspiration to students who will soon be in your same position.

My last piece of advice is to talk to me. Seriously, reach out to me. If there is anyone who is prepared and able to help first year Jewish students it's me. I know your position very well, and sometimes I feel like I am still one of you. But the sense of loss is lesser because I have followed my own advice. I have felt uncomfortable, I have found my people, I am involved and I am beyond proud of who I am. I hope you are too.

Hadass Galili is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.

AUTHOR: Hadass Galili
EDITOR: Megan Diehl
COPY EDITOR: Lauren Serge
PHOTO: Nate Swanson
WEB DEVELOPMENT: Anastasia Carter