College Essay

March 22, 2013
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I am an eclectic Orthodox Jew. I have a certain perspective and life experiences that are products of my religious upbringing, however, I am so much more than that. Many times people make generalizations about Orthodox Jews; they think that we are all cut from the same cloth. Compared to most Orthodox Jews, who tend to come from similar backgrounds, I come from a family that is diverse in both race and religion. My multi-faceted background combined with my devotion to Judaism will add a unique perspective to your school, contributing to the richness and diversity of the campus community.

My father and mother come from two very different environments. My father was raised with a strong Jewish identity, but not Orthodox. Raised as a devout Catholic, my mother converted to Judaism when marrying my father. My parents sent their five children to private school to give us what no one in my family previously had - a Jewish education. Thus, my siblings and I are the first in generations to grow up as religious Jews.
Since my mother converted to Judaism, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins from her side of the family are not Jewish, including aunts who are Turkish and Japanese. However, despite our differences in faith, our families are still very close. We take time to visit them whenever we can, and although it can be a challenge to keep kosher while in their houses, they go out of their way to accommodate us. Even though they are not Jewish and we are not Christian, my whole extended family came to my bar mitzvah, and we go to their baptisms and first communions.
These interactions with my family lend themselves to unique experiences. When we visit my family during Passover, we are not allowed to eat bread, and it is a lot of work to ensure that our food is kosher-for-Passover while with them. Although it is difficult, we still stay with them, and they do much to make it easier for us even while celebrating Easter. We sit with them during their Easter meal, and we eat matzo instead of their non-kosher food. Often we visit my mother’s family when they are celebrating Christmas and we Hanukah. While there, we light our menorah next to their Christmas tree. The quintessential example of these experiences was my cousin’s birthday, when we sang happy birthday in four different languages: English, Hebrew, Japanese and Turkish. These exceptional experiences make me feel that in the end it is not what separates us that is important, rather it is what brings us together.

Given my very distinct background, I would bring a unique and open-minded perspective with me, while still dedicated to my culture and beliefs. I recognize that few have the opportunities that I have, not to mention such a loving family. My background has given me firsthand experiences of religious tolerance and a point-of-view unmarred by preconceived prejudices. I appreciate the value of a diverse community, and will bring experience and perspective that will contribute to the diversity of the campus.

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