The Foundation for
Jewish Campus Life

Humans of Hillel

Being Jewish on my own terms

Tel Hai, Israel | 2020

“As a child, I grew up without any connection to Judaism. My family and I went to synagogue occasionally for Yom Kippur. In Israel, Orthodox Judaism is the most known way to keep tradition. I wasn't exposed to any other way, so I thought there was only one way to practice Judaism and only one way to keep the tradition. Now, I have found that there’s so much more to Judaism than I thought. I recently went to a Hillel Israel Shabbaton in Jerusalem for young adults. They were from a variety of Jewish backgrounds. One of the most meaningful moments was celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat at Kehilat Zion, an egalitarian synagogue. I felt for the first time that there is a place for each and every person. I had never been to a synagogue like that before, where a woman said the Parashat HaShavua. That was very meaningful because it showed me how different Jewish communities are accepting and open minded. Throughout the weekend, we asked each other questions like, ‘What is Judaism to you?’ and ‘Is there a G-D?’ The people were open and thankfully, not judgmental at all, which made this platform even more accessible. For me, the weekend was an authentic opportunity to explore new questions that occupy my mind on a daily basis, and to not be shy when asking those questions. I learned that there are so many ways for me to belong and be Jewish on my own terms. Living my life according to my Jewish values is my personal way of keeping our tradition.” – Amit Tal, Tel Hai College