Yesterday I attended an event hosted by the Religious Action Center that was for Jewish interns staying in D.C. this summer. The event, primarily for the students in the Machon-Kaplan Summer Internship Program, was a great opportunity to connect with Jewish students from colleges around the country, and to hear what interns are most excited about to live in D.C.
It’s easy to take for granted my own Washingtonian experience and the vibrant Jewish community I’ve found here. As a student and young adult, I have abundant resources and support systems whether through GW Hillel and Meor, Shabbat dinners with my friends, or now through Gather the Jews. Coming from a home where Judaism was always both a priority and a safe-haven, I naturally took advantage of the Jewish opportunities on my campus and in the D.C. community. The fact that RAC offers that service to students who are here short-term provides these interns with more than just a hub for Jewish life; it gives students a community, and allows them to make D.C. their home.
Jewish organizations are natural home bases for local Jews, especially college students. For those who identify with the religious and spiritual elements of Judaism, synagogues and study groups provide students with a place to continue enriching their spiritual connections and meet others who may be on the same path. For students who identify exclusively as culturally Jewish, or who are still navigating what religion means to them, Jewish groups still serve as an epicenter of community and connection, inviting all Jewish young adults to create their own experiences. For all college students, being in a new city with new people can be a tough transition–part of which requires students to find where they fit in. Jewish organizations show all Jewish students that they fit in some
where, that wherever they go, there’s a place for them in Judaism.
As a kid, I went to Friday night services with my mom every Shabbat, and sometimes during sermons I’d lose interest and peruse through the Siddurs and song books tucked into the pockets of the chairs in front of me. To this day, there’s a song that still stands out: Wherever You Go, by Rabbi Larry Milder. It has a catchy tune and silly lyrics about Jews still being Jews, whether they wear sombreros or live in pagodas, but it’s true: wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish. The RAC has the right idea–bring the Jewish interns together, and they’ll always remember Jews are never alone.
Wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish
You’re never alone when
you say you’re a Jew
So, when you’re not home and you’re somewhere kind of newish
The odds are don’t look far, cause they’re Jewish too.