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A Student’s Voice: You Can’t Buy Me a Jewish Identity


By Jordyn Seri, ‘18

My Jewish identity has been developed through many different experiences. This includes seven years of Hebrew school, six years of Jewish youth group, three summers of Jewish sleep-away camp, several trips to Israel with my family, as well as Birthright and Onward Israel.

These experiences have been wonderful. Learning over the past twenty one years what being Jewish means and does for me has shaped me into the woman I am today. All of these experiences however, were ones that I either had to do (i.e. hebrew school), or were offered in exchange for a free trip to Israel, an internship, or some sort of social experience.

This year, for the first time, I was offered to to have a Jewish experience solely… Read More »

Our World Is Changing and So Must We; Otherwise We Are Negligent


Since our arrival in Waltham in 2001, two drastic changes have occurred at Brandeis, though they are not exclusive to Brandeis. Firstly, tuition has gone up from the mid $30,000-a-year to close to $70,000 today. Fifteen years ago, that was approximately 20% below the median income, today it’s close to 20% above it.

When the cost of one’s education exceeds what an average person earns in a year, an underlying pressure exists to achieve a net return on this investment. Often that comes at the cost of excluding other valuable enriching opportunities. This is evident in the recent surge of business majors at Brandeis, now becoming one of the largest majors, contrasted with the sharp decline in Judaic studies majors. It is… Read More »

A Student’s Voice: Inclusivity Can Sometimes Be Judgmental


By Ruby:

Since arriving at Brandeis three years ago, I was reluctant to join a religious community on or off campus. I grew up in an inclusive Reconstructionist shul full of music, social justice, and community support. I knew what I wanted in a religious community, and I was very reluctant to venture outside of my type of Judaism. I found a home in the Reconstructionist services on campus and, although I was frequently invited to join a Chabad or Hillel dinner, I thought a Jew like me would never be welcome in that environment.

This fall, Chabad at Brandeis held Mega Shabbat, a community dinner for several hundreds of Brandeis students, Jews and non-Jews alike. I had not been to a Chabad dinner in two years, but since several of… Read More »

Chabad Is Not a Humanitarian Organization

Meet Richie Malone, his wife Misty, and his two boys, Brady and Liam. I met Richie outside his home in Houston, while he was removing debris from his now stripped bare first floor. All the homes on his block were deserted, the street silent, with piles of torn out sheet-rock, deformed furniture, and boxes of memories lining the sidewalks. I was going house to house, inviting residents to a Red Cross Disaster Relief Truck delivering free hot meals and cold drinks.

Earlier that day, together with four other rabbis, I was helping a woman whose home was devastated clear her garage and move furniture. At the same time other rabbis from across the US and Canada were helping homeowners clear the ruins from their homes, distribute food and… Read More »

Reflections from a Spontaneous Journey


It was quite remarkable when an alumnus visited and shared that he is quitting his job to spend six months out of the country learning a foreign language and volunteering. He had a good job, in the career of his preference, and was living amongst friends. Understandably I asked, “What happened?”

With full sincerity he felt that he was not providing value to the world through his marketing job. He felt what difference would it make if people purchased product A or product B? He went on to describe how his practice of Judaism has lapsed because as he put it, “It provided no meaning.” While his friends were satisfied with following the routine, for him the lack of… Read More »

15 Years at Brandeis; A Chabad Odyssey

Fifteen years ago the 20th day in the month of Av (this Wednesday 8/24), turned out to be the hottest day of the summer. In the sweltering heat we cleared out the last items from our two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, packed them into our car and began a four hour ride to Waltham, Massachusetts. Mendel was four months old, Chanie twenty two, and I was twenty five.

Later that Thursday afternoon we arrived at our rented apartment located a mile and half from the Brandeis campus. As we pulled up, the movers carried our boxes up the winding steps to the second floor of a three story home where Chabad of Brandeis was going to begin.

That first Shabbat we sat on boxes, with food purchased in the nearby supermarket laid before us on other… Read More »

It’s Their Secret and Our Hope

For the second year in a row we hosted Zusha at Chabad of Brandeis, a soulful band of three young men, recent college graduates, whose popularity is on the rise. The Shabbat at Brandeis was part of their Boston visit as they tour the country celebrating the release of Kavana, their latest and well received album.

Their brand is the Chassidic musical style of neegoon, wordless melody, and they seek to inspire people of all backgrounds to live with intention, meaning and love. On stage they dance with each other in the chaotic and soulful Chassidic style, one arm wrapped around each other’s while the other arm sways directionless in the air.

Elisha, the percussionist, with his short hair, neatly trimmed blond beard and casual… Read More »


The two hottest issues being discussed and at times dividing the Jewish communities committed to Halacha, are homosexuality and egalitarianism. With the recent public position the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America, the largest and most dominant union of Orthodox Rabbis in the United States) has taken opposing women in the clergy and the Orthodox institutions that support them, the issue of equality for women within Halacha has been raised to the fore.

In June when the Supreme Court of the United States legalized gay marriage, the Jewish community committed to Halacha was placed under the spotlight; what is the appropriate response to this new law of the land? From the leading Rabbinical councils, to individual Rabbis and lay leaders, to… Read More »

Times of Israel: BDS, Birthright, and thinking inside the box

Imagine if the BDS movement sweeping through college campuses today would have occurred say, fifteen years ago. Leaders of the American Jewish community, including major organizations and philanthropists would have decried the modern-day anti-semitism and searched for solutions to combat this poisonous phenomenon.

Considering that BDS seeks to de-legitimize Israel on college campuses, and it is Jewish college students who are confronted by the demonstrations and petitions, it would be prudent to focus efforts on Jewish college students. To empower them not to be intimidated by the bullies with the loud megaphones, and more importantly, to be a powerful counter-force that would put the protesters on their heels and on the defensive.

The… Read More »

Times of Israel: Here to disrupt

After fourteen years our mission has never been clearer.

Since our arrival at Brandeis in 2001 we have encountered two types of reactions to Chabad. Some people love and appreciate Chabad while some are skeptical and dismiss Chabad.

Chabad is a wonderful organization that offers an exceptional service to many people. It is a home away from home, a warm Shabbat dinner, and in general a non-judgemental environment that is welcoming to all. That is why Chabad has earned the love, respect and support of so many.

Long before Chabad was an organization, with the first Chabad house established in 1969 at UCLA, it was a philosophy that evolved into a movement and community.

During the latter half of the 1700s in Russia, Rabbi Shneur Zalman… Read More »

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