Finding Jewish Life on Our Jesuit Hilltop
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 23:10
After completing a year at Washington University in St. Louis, it was quite clear to me that the Missouri campus was far from the school of my dreams. Though a bit discouraged, I was determined that somewhere out there was a better fit for my personality and ambitions. After looking around, I sensed that the urban and dynamic environment offered by Georgetown could provide that comfortable fit. Coming here was certainly a gamble, but now, even after just a month, I can say confidently that transferring to the Hilltop was the right bet to make.
Transfer students are bound to be a small and unique population at any university. Each of us has already had at least a year to adjust to college life, learning to live independently and to manage valuable time. Yet we are inevitably new to many aspects of life on the Hilltop. In this regard, it can feel like we are freshmen once again, the new kids learning the ropes of our new institution.
Luckily, almost immediately upon arriving at Georgetown, I came across some brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity on campus. They were a group of guys with whom I felt comfortable and like-minded. After weighing the time commitment and talking to current brothers, I made another gamble: I decided to pledge. In another stroke of luck, this one paid off, too. I’m already appreciative of the experiences and people I’ve encountered through AEPi.
The Jewish community at Georgetown certainly takes on a different shape and substantially smaller size than that of my previous school. It is, however, just as supportive. Though religion-centered social life was never something I anticipated seeking out in my college experience, being at Georgetown has made it unexpectedly accessible and enjoyable.
That my sense of Jewish identity has strengthened upon coming to Georgetown can be seen as ironic. Leaving Washington University of St. Louis, a school known for its large Jewish population, in favor of a Catholic institution doesn’t imply a search for a Jewish identity. But it is this cultural transition that has led me to seek out Jewish student life.
It is funny to my friends at home, and even to me sometimes, that I’ve come to a school not known for Greek life or Jewish community and have so happily found both. But as a student who, as a non-Catholic uninterested in politics, is relatively far from the Georgetown stereotype, I guess there is little surprise that my social endeavors have also strayed from the norm. When people search for a college, they often try to align their identities with the stereotype of the school. The reality, as I’ve found it, is that most places, Georgetown included, don’t have just one overarching culture. Rather, Georgetown is the sum of all of the cultures of its students. Though I do not epitomize the most typical cultural background of a Georgetown student, I have been fortunate to find a culture that aligns with my identity.
Transferring universities is by no means easy. Leaving a quarter of my college experience behind is a choice that I could have made only knowing that I would surely be happier elsewhere. Thankfully, so far, my expectations have been met. Be it the Jewish community, life in the fraternity or the Hilltop as a whole, the university’s vibrancy and variation have given me a smooth transition and a positive outlook for the next three years.
Gabriel Isaacson is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business.