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8 Ways To Connect With Jewish Life On Campus

8 Ways To Connect With Jewish Life On Campus

Four college aged friends in colorful clothing sitting on a bench together smiling and making funny faces

It’s that time of the year again: moving into new dorms and apartments, buying pens and notebooks, and double-checking schedules to make sure you get to the right class. While the start of every school year is exciting, it’s also an incredibly exciting time to be Jewish on campus.

I graduated from the University of Kansas about a year ago, and although I loved every part of my experience there, it was the Jewish moments that truly stand out: creating lasting friendships at Hillel events, exploring my Judaism to new depths, working at URJ Kutz Camp during the summers, and the overall excitement and meaning of being a Jewish leader on campus.

For the past year, I’ve been working at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) as its presidential fellow for millennial engagement, which is a big, long way of saying that I get to work with college students and young professionals to find awesome ways of connecting with Jewish life. Throughout all of my travel to campuses in the last year, my favorite part has been meeting with students to hear about their experiences and connect them with fun and meaningful Jewish communities and events.

Though many students may be missing their hometown youth group, congregation, or summer camp as the school year begins, there are plenty of exciting ways for college students to explore Judaism and expand their connection to the Jewish community.

  1. Find a place for High Holidays: Our “Find a Congregation” tool to scope out the closest Reform temple in your area and get your ticket for services.
  2. Volunteer at or attend the 2017 URJ Biennial: In December, more than 5,000 Reform Jews will descend upon Boston for the URJ Biennial. Volunteer at the event as part of the incredible Biennial Ambassador cohort or attend as part of the College Track. Registration closes soon – sign-up now!
  3. Join a campus organization: Whether it’s your local Hillel, a Jewish fraternity/sorority, or Israel groups, there are plenty of organizations on campus where Jewish students connect to Jewish life.
  4. Tap into NFTY’s Alumni Network: Looking for a friendly face on campus? If you’re an alum of any URJ Youth program, check out the Connect on Campus Map to find other alums on your campus!
  5. Go on a KESHER Birthright trip: Whether or not you’ve been to Israel, now’s the time to make it happen! Create your account for a FREE 10-day trip to Israel – and bring your friends along too!
  6. Join the Founders Fellows: Join a cohort of dedicated Reform students from all over North America as you create new and innovative ways of doing Jewish on campus. Applications close soon – apply now!
  7. Tap into money for Reform programs: Sponsored by the Men of Reform Judaism, grants are available for students to create their own Reform Jewish events on campus.
  8. Find helpful online resources: Check out ReformJudaism.org's college life page for DIY Jewish guides, resources to help students manage school-related stress, and programs to join.

Like I said, it’s a really exciting time to be Jewish in college. I hope this school year is one of meaningful learning, exploration, and growth – and I want to help. Please know that throughout this year, I am only an email away with any questions, concerns, or ideas about Jewish life on campus. As we say with all big moments in our lives, let us say Shehecheyanu and give thanks for allowing us to reach this exciting and fulfilling time in the year. 

Evan Traylor, originally from Edmond, OK, is serving as the inaugural Presidential Fellow for Millennial Engagement at the Union for Reform Judaism. He is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, where he studied political science, Jewish studies, and leadership studies. Evan is an alum of URJ Greene Family Camp, NFTY in Israel, and URJ Kutz Camp, and he served as the 2012-2013 North American President of NFTY. Previously, he was an engagement intern for University of Kansas Hillel, a trustee on the URJ Board, a student member of the Hillel International Board of Directors, and a co-founder of the Hillel International Student Cabinet.

Evan Traylor
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