By Morgan Caplan
For the Mitzpeh
MEOR Maryland, a Jewish campus outreach organization, fosters a relationship with the Maryland Greek community, encouraging an education of Jewish values despite differing religious backgrounds.
MEOR hosts a variety of events for anyone in the university’s community such as challah baking, Shabbat dinners and its Maimonides Leaders Fellowships. These events, although enriched with Jewish beliefs, extend to the diverse Greek community and other campus organizations to engage Jewish and non-Jewish people in an educational experience.
“We are always looking to meet new people,” MEOR educator Mariel Goldstein said. “We are trying to share Judaism and we enjoy the variety that Greek life invokes.”
Alpha Omicron Pi, a non-affiliated Greek sorority of the Panhellenic Association recently participated in a challah baking event. MEOR educators Devora Jaye and Mariel Goldstein joined the sorority in making challah loaves while teaching about the Jewish customs that are attached to the traditional bread making process.
After the group finished braiding the dough, AOII members immersed themselves in conversation about the Jewish faith, as some were unfamiliar with the practiced customs. MEOR representatives, who devoted themselves to engaging in open conversation, spoke candidly with the girls, discussing everything from life to challah, Goldstein said.
“As a non-religious individual, I was very skeptical about spending time with a program that promotes Jewish students to embrace their religion,” Madi Rajhel, a sophomore supply chain management major, said. “I was so pleasantly surprised when two warm, smart and interesting people began to share with me a piece of their culture.”
Although directed towards the Jewish students on campus, MEOR influences a variety of different people on campus, Rajhel said. She was enlightened by a different perspective and faith.
“They wanted to provide an educational experience and an environment where all races and religions felt at home,” she said. “I never felt like Judaism was pushed on me in the slightest.”
MEOR, through its events, strives to inspire a life of Jewish learning and living, Goldstein said. Specifically, through its Maimonides Leaders Fellowship, there has been a larger presence of students in Greek life participating in the programs. MEOR has seen that as word travels and they receive more positive feedback, more sororities and fraternities such as Alpha Epsilon Phi and Zeta Beta Tau are open to hosting events and partnering with MEOR.
“We are trying to connect with different parts of Greek life and kind of establish that bond to have a more personal, intimate experience,” Goldstein said. “After we hold events such as a challah bake, we tend to see more people coming to our big Shabbat dinners.”
Sophomore journalism major Sara Malinow invests her time in MEOR’s mission and programs. As a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, she participated in the challah bake that her sorority put together with MEOR as well as the Maimonides program and MEOR trips.
Prior to college, Malinow was not religiously observant, but coming to Maryland and experiencing MEOR with people she connected with, such as her sisters of Alpha Epsilon Phi, has fostered a stronger relationship with her faith.
“It has truly enriched my connection to Judaism and allowed me to connect with other Jews on campus,” Malinow said. “It has more of an impact when I can share this special place with my sisters.”