Growing up, I lived in a very small, very conservative town on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. That being said, I didn’t have the opportunity to experience much diversity – not only when it came to different races and ethnicities, but also religious diversity. I was raised Catholic and had really never had any religious experiences outside of that one denomination, save for some youth group attendance at my local Baptist church. In fact, I never even had the chance to attend a Bat or Bar Mitzvah! Confirmations and First Communions were about all I got. At Union, there is plenty of all that diversity that I never truly got to experience, or even really understand. Unlike at home, where I have about three Jewish friends – and none of whom take it very seriously, considering they all celebrate Christmas, too – about half of my friends here are Jewish! That being said, my eyes have certainly been opened to the other religious worlds that exist, and the cultures that come with them.
On Friday night of Springfest weekend, one of my good friend’s mother was speaking at the Chabad of Union, which is the center of Jewish life on campus for students. So, despite being the only non-Jew with my friends that night, I decided to join them at Shabbat dinner. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb considering I look about as Irish Catholic as they come, not to mention the fact that I clearly had no idea what I was doing. But despite my initial nervousness, I had so much fun! Everyone in attendance could not have been more welcoming, and they all made me feel right at home. Plus, the food was absolutely delicious! It was a wonderfully eye-opening experience to see how a religion that I knew virtually nothing about operates, and it does so in such a warm and loving fashion. Let’s just say that it will definitely not be my last time visiting the Chabad!