The Foundation for
Jewish Campus Life

Humans of Hillel

Cultural chameleon

Madison, Wisconsin | 2019

“I had culture shock when I moved with my family from a kibbutz in Israel — one that only spanned two streets — to Wisconsin. I was 12 and entering seventh grade. In my new public school, my class sizes went from 10 students to almost 30. Speaking English was embarrassing, especially since I didn’t speak the language well. It took some time, but my English improved, I made friends and I grew to like Wisconsin. But I still wasn’t sure if I felt like a part of the American Jewish community. I was raised in a secular Jewish family, so I didn’t know much about Jewish religious practices. When I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I began to explore my Jewish roots at Hillel. For the first time, I was exposed to so many diverse Jews — Reform, Conservative, non-denominational Jews. They were open and accepting of me as a secular Jew. Now, as I’m about to enter my senior year, I feel more a part of the American Jewish community. I’m proud to be a part of it.” — Yogev Ben-Yitschak, University of Wisconsin-Madison