By Chidinma Onuoha
Students at this university shared what MEOR meant to them in a Maimonides graduation ceremony Sunday.
MEOR is one of the major Jewish organizations on campus. Executive Director Rabbi Ari Koretzky described it as a wonderful vehicle for giving Jewish students on campus a powerful experience. The organization has been active for 14 years and it is a way for people to connect with their identities, to challenge themselves and to find their place in the Jewish community according to Koretzky.
This semester, there were 69 students in the Maimonides program. To adjust for the large number of members, Koretzky decided to divide the group into two different sections.
“We try to break up the groups to a minimum size so we don’t lose a sense of personal connection and intimacy,” said Koretzky. “We really want it to be a relationship-driven and interactive experience. So when a program get’s too large we’ll break it into two sections.”
On Sunday afternoon in the Mayberg Residence, those 69 students celebrated their journey with MEOR with a two-part graduation ceremony. Student speakers reminisced about their time with the program through various speeches.
In this ceremony, Koretzky is referred to by the students as “Mr. K” and Assistant Director Devora Jaye as “DJ.” Students, family members and staff conversed in the intimate venue with plates of refreshments. Students hugged and laughed together.
“I’ve had a really good experience with MEOR,” said Julie Rosenberg, sophomore public relations major. “At the end of our chapter we’re all standing around this one table holding hands and swaying back and forth and it kind of just reminded me that being Jewish is what you make it to be, not what you’re told it should be.”
Rosenberg said that upon graduating, she would have more Jewish experiences and shape her Jewish identity with a little more knowledge.
“Being Jewish to all of us means something and this was the most amazing eye-opening experience and if I could do it again, I would’ve,” she said.
Hannah Dornbush, a sophomore early childhood education major who celebrated her 20th birthday in the graduation ceremony, said that the program allowed her to get involved with her Jewish heritage again.
“[This program] meant kind of getting in touch with my Judaism again because I felt like coming to college I kind of lost that,” said Dornbush. “And when I got into college I felt that I kind of dropped and I wasn’t doing anything so i just wanted to get back [with my community].”
Spencer Schenker, a junior supply chain management major, joined MEOR after Rabbi Koretzky recommended the program to him.
“[He said] it was a way for Jewish students to engage in themselves, find themselves, find their Jewish identity which is of course different for all of us. And that’s certainly what I did this semester,” said Schenker.
Schenker found the ceremony exciting and said he’ll miss the students and staff.
“I’ll miss the people,” said Schenker. “Every semester, the group of people is always different so this time around we had a diverse group of people, probably the biggest group that this program has had in awhile. And I’ll miss seeing the staff every week regularly and their unique personalities that really make you want to join them.”