The Importance of Staying in Touch
It was with great pleasure that I read the article “Synagogues Stay in Touch With College Students” (Headlines, Aug. 15).
Here at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, we have had our college program since September 1975. It was started when my eldest son was going to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. This would be the first time he would be away from home for the Jewish holidays, and would not be attending services or having dinner with family.
This was a time when Hillel was not as active as it is today. A father of one of my son’s friends heard my concerns and offered to have his family in Pittsburgh call my son and see that he attended services and had dinner with them. My son was so pleased because he had family he could count on, if needed. My late husband, Gene, thought that if our son needed a home and family to be near while in college, so did other Jewish children.
We went to our beloved Rabbi Aaron Landes, now rabbi emeritus, to ask for his help with the program. He thought the idea was very good, and with his help and that of Yaacov Lieberman (z”l), who was the ritual director, and members of the Beth Sholom board, along with 13 mothers who had children in college at the time, the college program was started.
Our program won the United Synagogue Solomon Schechter award for the best college program in 1984. At a Women’s League for Conservative Judaism convention, I spoke nationally about how to create such a project.
One part of our program helps high school students as they begin thinking about where to attend college. In the spring of each year, we invite 10th and 11th graders and their parents to a meeting with a local college adviser. We also try to reach out to other rabbis and synagogues to see if they have students coming to our area, how we can be of help and give them home hospitality, if needed.
Our college students are young people today, but they are the future of our Jewish life. We must do all we can to keep them in the fold, and follow our Jewish lifestyles.
Doris C. Pohl | College Program Chairman Beth Sholom Congregation