Some of our college students at UCF
Early this morning I left for the University of Central Florida, where I will be having lunch with a group of Ramat Shalom college and graduate students. After lunch, I will be heading up to Gainesville to have dinner with more Ramat Shalom students at the University of Florida. I will also be leading Friday night services at UF Hillel.
I have really been looking forward to this trip. Many of our college and graduate students were once our bar/bat mitzvah students. Some of them attended our preschool and several were active in our youth programs as they grew up at Ramat Shalom. Along with many of you their parents, we at Ramat Shalom have worked really hard to teach our children about their Jewish faith and culture. We have done so not only because they were becoming bar/bat mitzvah, but also because we wanted to give them the tools needed to go and live their lives as Jews. Well, our college and graduate students are out there trying their best to figure out how to use these tools and make their own Jewish choices on campus. As their home synagogue, we can’t abandon them now!
For many of our college and graduate students, life on campus signifies the beginning of their own, independent Jewish lives. Yes, most of our college and graduate students are lucky to be on campuses that have a Hillel and other Jewish organizations to offer them guidance and support as they navigate their independent Jewish lives. But, this does not mean that Ramat Shalom no longer needs to be there for our “kids.” Our college and graduate students remain part of our community and we must do our best to keep them connected to their synagogue family. This is why I am headed up to UCF and UF today.
Today’s trip is the beginning of a new initiative designed to keep our college and graduate students connected to Jewish life on the corner of Broward Boulevard and Old Hiatus Road. Through more visits to campuses, increased communication between Ramat Shalom and the Hillels on the campuses our kids attend, and new ways that we will be communicating with our college and graduate students, I plan to extend the incredible sense of community here at Ramat Shalom to their campuses. I want to ensure that all of our college and graduate students know that they remain extremely important to each of us who call Ramat Shalom our spiritual home.
If any of you would like to take part in this new initiative, I welcome your participation! Also, if you have a college and/or graduate student, please make sure Diane has their contact information (firstname.lastname@example.org).