Jewish Value of the Week
Kehila kedosha, the Jewish value or concept of a ‘holy’ community, is something that has been reiterated to me countless times throughout my Jewish education, but the meaning didn’t quite hit me as a truly significant part of my life until I came here to the University of Oregon this past fall.
Don’t get me wrong. I was born into a wonderful Jewish community in Minnesota and I spent the majority of my primary education in Jewish day school where kehila kedosha reigns. I believe that the communities we are born into are the ones that shape our values and the communities we choose are where we face the challenge of putting our values into action. The communities we choose are the ones we actively make a ‘holier’ place because from the moment we step in, we have the task of adapting to it.
I am a freshman this year and I spent this last summer worrying about how I would make UO my home. I am an out-of-state student and didn’t have the option of coming into school with an already formed community, so I knew I had to find one for myself. Being the anxiety-ridden person I am sometimes am, I came to Eugene with a list of extracurricular activities and communities that I wanted to be a part of. At the top of my to-do list were these four words: Join a student publication. As soon as I got to school, I applied for a position at the Emerald, the independent newspaper at UO.
The Emerald has taught me so much about the communities I choose to inhabit and how the values I hold dear manifest in the people around me. A holy chosen community for me is full of kooky and sometimes awfully punny people who are curious about the world around them. The choice to join Emerald has directly influenced my college experience so far in so many amazing ways. I have found wonderful friends who get who I am and go along with my jokes. More importantly, through journalism, I am also actively working to make UO a holier community that sticks to its values. The Emerald is only one of my many kehilot kedoshot at UO. Sigma is the other important one.
To be honest, I came into college pretty darn adamant about not joining a sorority. My grandpa always told me I was going to join a Jewish-values based sorority and I initially snubbed Sigma for that. What I am learning about communities is that sometimes communities find us and take us in, despite our initial protests. I can now say that Fall Term Sararosa was wrong. Sigma has been such a wonderful community for me and has pushed me to reconnect with my Judaism. The more I get to know my sisters, the more I learn about the intent behind our rituals, it becomes clear to me that Sigma is a kehila kedosha. When I’m out late and can’t make it back to my dorm or when I’m having a bad day and need DQ, my sisters will be there. A true ‘holy community’ is one full of support.
I’m so glad to have found my kehilot kedoshot—my holy places in everyday life—here at UO.