Jewish Community Centralized
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 02:09
The Office of Residence Life approved plans to institute a Jewish Living Learning Community on Wednesday.
Dubbed Bayit — “home” in Hebrew — the program is the 10th Living Learning Community at Georgetown and will become an option on housing applications for next fall. The LLC’s future location is still unknown.
According to Mitchel Hochberg (SFS ’15), who spearheaded the project, the LLC aims to provide a hub for Jewish life on campus.
The idea emerged after Hochberg had a casual conversation with a friend from the Muslim Interest LLC.
“[He] told me, ‘Why don’t you guys start one of these?’” Hochberg said. “We joked around a bit, but I started to really consider it after the conversation.”
Hochberg observed that despite the prevalence of student groups and initiatives dedicated to Jewish interests — the Jewish Student Association, the Georgetown Israel Alliance, the Jewish Chaplaincy and the Program for Jewish Civilization — there is no defined home for Jewish students on campus.
“It’s taking a community that exists [and] really centralizing it, [creating] a hub for its activities and a residential dimension,” Hochberg said.
Jewish Student Association Co-President Isaac Mishlove (SFS ’15) said that the LLC will facilitate the exchange of information between Jewish student groups.
“There is a lot of redundancy that happens when you look at a wall and you have a PJC poster, a JSA poster, a chaplaincy poster. … When anyone looks at it, all of them blend together,” Mishlove said. “I think it will be a good space for people that are involved in different groups to have a lot more transparency on what’s going on in different aspects of Jewish-related life on campus.”
Hochberg distinguished Bayit from other LLCs by pointing out that it will meet the needs of an already well-developed group.
“It is unique among the other Living Learning Communities because it’s not creating a community in the same way that some of the other ones are,” Hochberg said. “It serves a function for an existing community that was not served before.”
However, Mishlove expressed concern that the LLC, which can accommodate only a limited number of students, will potentially create an exclusive group.
“Initially, I thought it was going to be a divider for Jewish students on campus. I still [have] that hesitation,” Mishlove said. “Because we come from so many places, [have] so many ways of practicing [and] so many mixes of students identify as Jewish in different ways … unity is a thing we need to work on.”
As with other LLCs, interested students can apply to live in the space, but Hochberg said that those who follow the kashrut, a set of strict Jewish dietary laws, will be given priority.
“It will be a lot easier for prospective students who are very observant [of] Jewish dietary laws to come to Georgetown if they [have] an environment like this,” Hochberg said.
Mishlove said he anticipates that Bayit will attract students who already are involved in Jewish leadership positions on campus.
“The names that would be going into this lottery would be pretty predictable already,” Mishlove said.
Director of Jewish Chaplaincy Rabbi Rachel Gartner, the faculty adviser for Bayit, said the LLC will provide more opportunities for Georgetown’s Jewish students.
“For folks that want a slightly more intensive cultural experience and holistic experience of living a Jewish life, this will be a great opportunity,” Gartner said.