Where I Found Community

headshot Lily Rubinstein

Lily Rubinstein (C’22)

Reflecting on the fact that I came to Georgetown with no intention of being involved in Jewish Life, and the extent to which it has become central to my life now is almost hard to believe.

I came to Georgetown from a completely secular family that celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas, as part of the tradition from each parent’s childhood. Other than that, we occasionally had a Seder, but that was the extent of my Jewish-ness at home. Somehow, despite all of that, in the past year and a half, Jewish Life at Georgetown has become one of the most important parts of my college experience. As a confused freshman in my first semester, I impulsively decided to take a one-credit course with Rabbi Ben Barer and Rabbi Rachel Gardner titled Varieties of Jewish Prayer Experience.

We met a few times throughout the semester for formal class time, but the most significant part of the course, for me, was our four field trips to a variety of synagogues in the D.C. area for Shabbat services. This class was my first true introduction to anything Jewish and drew me into the Jewish community at Georgetown.

After that, I dragged my one Jewish friend to JSA (Jewish Student Association) events and made the out-of-character decision to go on the Shabbat retreat. This decision was something completely out of my comfort zone, considering I was still so unsure of what being Jewish meant to me and that I knew exactly zero of the students attending the retreat. This weekend was a turning point for me during my freshman year because it was at that point that I knew I had found a community in the students I met.

Fast forward one year later to my sophomore fall, I am on the JSA board as the Sisterhood Chair and work as a GUish intern. As a senior in high school, I never would have been able to imagine my Jewish identity being so integral to my college experience, but now, I cannot imagine Georgetown without it. I can only attribute this to the people, both students, and Jewish Life staff, who, from day one, made me feel like I belonged in the community. I was initially nervous about finding my place in the Jewish community here because I struggled with feeling like I was not Jewish enough, but the love and support I have felt from every member of this community has allowed me to grow into my own Jewish identity while also becoming a leader in our community.

by Lily Rubinstein (C’22)