Posts Tagged ‘Prospective Students’

Recruiting New OWUJews

February 18, 2010

Monday, I attended my first Admissions event as Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life.  I went to meet with a specific prospect – a young man from a suburb of Cleveland where 80% of his public school classmates are Jewish.  As I’ve found in all my other dealings with prospective students, the meeting and conversation were initiated and directed by his parents.  The student said next to nothing.

His father asked, “Do you have a building?”  while I thought to myself, “I don’t even have an office!”  They asked about the programming we have and how many students attend our events.  When I told them that anywhere from 3 to 30 students attend our occasional Shabbat services, holiday parties, meetings, and new study group, the father said, “It sounds like you’re trying, but -”  The mother asked if the cafeterias serve Pesadich (kosher for Passover) food.  Again, we’re not there, yet.

Other schools this student is looking at include large state institutions.  Both have larger Hillels with their own buildings and more programming than we are able to provide at this time.  But will that guarantee that this student will participate in Jewish Life activities once he moves out of his parents’ home?

While I was speaking with this family, another prospective student came looking for me.  He and his mother were visiting from Colorado.  He had taken a few years off after high school and had already been admitted to OWU.  He spoke excitedly about the possibilities OWU presented to participate in many areas of study and activity.  He admitted he wasn’t the most religious person and wasn’t as concerned with Jewish Life on campus as his mother was, but asked me to tell him a bit about our programs.

He and his mother were both excited by what is going on in our growing kehillah.  They were excited about the idea of Jewish students with diverse backgrounds sharing traditions, asking questions, and developing perspectives about what it means to them to be Jewish.  While he made no promises, I felt nearly certain that if this student came to OWU, I’d see him again.

So what does it take to be an OWUJew?  If you could select new members for our tribe, what characteristics would they possess?  What interests and concerns would they bring?