A quote that caught my eye was said by Rutgers Hillel’s executive director Andrew Getraer, “… 85 percent of our students are from New Jersey and 50 percent of them will stay in New Jersey so we are one of the most important institutions in the state for the Jewish community.”
What I took from this quote is that Rutgers has declared its responsibility for maintaining strong Jewish communities throughout the state. It seems problematic to me that there aren’t schools everywhere that have the same goal.
There are Jews out throughout the country, yet there are so few colleges with a substantial Jewish population that would make the schools suitable options for observant Jews. As a junior in a Modern Orthodox high school starting the college application process, this problem has been bothering me a lot lately.
I’ve realized how few college options there are for me considering my religious goals. Yes, there are colleges like Rutgers that are celebrating their thriving Jewish communities, but the list of colleges where Jews can grow religiously is not long enough. Even though many of the colleges that lack Jewish life are trying to recruit more Jews, such as Boston University and Dartmouth, these schools are only now trying to expand the numbers of Jewish attendees. High schoolers like me don’t want to be the guinea pigs in an attempt to grow a Jewish community at a university. I want to go to a college that I know will have a minyan every Shabbat, not one that struggles weekly to hit the lucky number 10.
I’m very thankful that colleges like Rutgers exist, and that there are schools where a young Jew can grow religiously. However, I hope in the future there will be more and more schools opening new Hillels that will also one day reach 75 years old.