Mezuzahs create community in campus dorms

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By Mollie Higgins
For the Mitzpeh
@MollieHigginss

For students of Jewish faith, putting a Mezuzah on their dorm room door can be a way for them to bring a piece of their faith with them to college and makes their new dorm room feel like home.

Mezuzahs are found affixed to the doors of Jewish homes, filled by a small parchment scroll and Hebrew words of the Shema handwritten inside as a symbol of the home’s connection to their faith.

Annabelle Baer, a freshman business major, brought her customized Maryland flag Mezuzah with her to hang outside of her room in Cumberland Hall. Baer said she met her roommate, Amanda Steinberg, through a mutual friend before moving into school and told her she would be bringing it with her.

I felt like it was a way for me to make my new room and new home Jewish and bring my Jewish identity with me,” Baer said.

The Mezuzah created a connection between Baer and Steinberg from the start, something that Baer noted helped them to become better friends.

“We could put it up and do a mitzvah together and have a Jewish thing that we could do together right from the start,” Baer said.

Baer noted that there are not many other Mezuzahs in her dorm on her floor, but she has seen them in other dorms, mostly at her friends’ rooms.

Freshmen, Ilana Gorod, a letters and sciences student, and Veronica Leifer, biology major, roommates in Worcester Hall, also have a Mezuzah hanging outside of their door. They said it has helped them build a connection with each other as roommates, but also with other people in the dorm.

Gorod said that she originally forgot her Mezuzah when she moved in, so she had her parents send it in the first package.

“After wanting to hang it up for a while, Veronica had the idea to have a Chanukat Habayit, so we made flyers, we put them up around our dorm, and we invited people to come over Friday before going to Hillel,” said Gorod.

Leifer said that after the two of them hung their Mezuzah on the door, it made other people in their hall excited and want to host their own Chanukat Habayit, a housewarming dedication celebrated with friends, in their rooms.

“Once we did that, people were like ‘Oh, I need my Mezuzah!’” said Gorod.

The two roommates added that if they hadn’t have brought their Mezuzah, they probably would have ended up being close friends still, but the Mezuzah in creating a friendship from the very beginning of school.

Leifer since has suggested to her synagogue that they include in their college care packages a “ How to Have a Chanukat Habayit” kit with a Mezuzah and a cloth inside to use and hang.

Leifer said, “I think it’s something that people can do and really nice even if you’re around non-Jews to get to know and share your culture and religion with other people.  You get to meet other people and welcome them into your room.

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