Religion & Beliefs

Nine Jewish Necessities for A College Freshman

So yesterday night I arrived back in Nashvillle and did most of my unpacking right away. It got me thinking about all the times I packed and unpacked in college, and about the Jewish things that quickly fell by the … Read More

By / August 21, 2007

So yesterday night I arrived back in Nashvillle and did most of my unpacking right away. It got me thinking about all the times I packed and unpacked in college, and about the Jewish things that quickly fell by the wayside because they weren’t worth shlepping. A Kiddush cup, for instance, is of little use when you’re too young to buy wine. I mean maybe you’ll go out and get grape juice, but more likely you’ll end up at Hillel. And candlesticks for Shabbat are nice, but I don’t know of any dorms that allow candles, so it was always kind of a moot point. Anyway, while I was unpacking I came up with nine things to give a Jewish college student so that they can have their Jewish bases covered. And they're not what you think they are… 1. Mezuzah These are pretty necessary, and the nice thing about living in a dorm is that you’ll only need to get one. Make sure to have a kosher scroll, too. You can buy fancy ones at the mezuzah store, which is where I linked to above, but you can also just ask the local chabad and they’ll get you one for cheap. 2. Tzedakah box You can buy a fancy one at a Judaica store, or you can make one from a box you buy at a craft store and some paint or whatever you want. It’s also nice to have a little discussion about how much tzedakah to give, and where the money will go at the end of the year. I like to give mine to the scholarship fund at Iowa, where I did my undergrad work, but there’s no shortage of good causes. 3. Siddur It pains me to recommend that you buy the superfrum Artscroll siddur, but it really is the most comprehensive and easy to use siddur. It has instructions for pretty much every Jewish ritual, and you can buy small size for fairly cheap. An irritating but ultimately worthwhile investment. 4. Tanach Every student should own a copy of the Bible if only so they can look up various biblical references in literary texts. The JPS translation is, I think, by far the best, and they sell small paperback copies that are great for students. 5. Luach Though it’s easy to access the dates of holidays and such with the internet, it’s nice to have it written down somewhere, and a Luach or Jewish calendar will make sure you don’t forget tomorrow is Rosh Hashana. This one also has tons of other helpful info in it for anyone who goes to shul regularly. 6. Hummus No Jewish child should be forced to live without good hummus. And by “good hummus” I do not mean that Athenos crap. I mean Sabra brand hummus, or something else genuinely Israeli if you live in an area where that’s available. These babies come in containers small enough to fit in your mini fridge, and are great with baby carrots, chips, pita, and cut veggies. The perfect between class snack. 7. Kippah and/or tallit You really don’t need to buy either of these items. You can score a kippah at your local synagogue or Hillel, and I’ve already told you how to make your own tallit. Good things to have on hand for the nights you decide to hit up Hillel for some free food. 8. Israeli Flag Yes, this is necessary. It doesn’t have to be huge, but a medium sized Israeli Flag says, ‘Don’t fuck with me or I will bring out my mad Krav Maga skills.” Tack it up on a bulletin board with a few things covering parts of it and you’re casually tough. Excellent. 9. Mivtza Savta Mivtza Savta literally means Operation Grandmother, but it’s basically a screwball version of Little Miss Sunshine done in Israel several years ago. It’s one of those cult classics that gets funnier every time. A nice thing to prove you’re one of those cool Yids.

Now you’ve got the tools to give charity, go to services, curb hunger, and stay amused. You may also want to buy books and bedding and whatever… That’s not really my forte. Now get out there and make your mother proud!