When applying to colleges, religious life on campus was not on the top of my list. I was more focused on schools with strong academic support, strong student-faculty relationships and small class sizes. What I was not expecting upon my arrival at Conn a year ago was Hillel. I started attending Hillel events on Friday nights to ease my homesickness during the Sabbath, but did not quite realize the role it would take on this fall.
As the High Holy Days rolled around, my family began to ask what my plans were and whether I had plans to come home. Home for me is New York City, which is only two and a half hours away but still feels far away. Instead of going home, I attended three services at Hillel, which were lead by our own chaplain, Rabbi Susan Schein. She made everyone feel welcome and was able to create services that pleased everyone in attendance. I was looking for something with a period of reflection that was also relaxed.
We were led in guided meditations and were told to think about the last Jewish year. I sat in my seat and wondered how I could become a better person in the next year. It then occurred to me that changes happen every day, and it would be up to me to do something good every day. After a day of fasting on Yom Kippur, I found community when, naturally, we feasted. I felt full knowing my stomach was as happy as my religious soul, and knowing that next year is already looking incredibly bright.