By Hallie Kay
Students at this university gathered on McKeldin Mall Thursday for the annual “First Look Fair,” which boasted many clubs for Jewish students to join.
The fair itself ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with tables of all different clubs sprawling up and down the Mall.
According to the Adele H. Stamp Student Union website, the First Look Fair “is one of the longest running involvement traditions at the University of Maryland…” and “…hosts almost 600 student clubs and organizations, campus departments and services, local vendors, and community service agencies.”
Whether it was for a specific major, ethnic group, athletics, language or professional fraternity, the fair was bustling with students from various walks of life and majors.
Many clubs geared toward Jewish students occupied posts at the fair, allowing Jewish students to find out more information about Jewish life on and off campus.
The Jewish Student Union drew a good amount of attention, as the representative at the table wore a camel hat.
“The Jewish Student Union is a union of Jews who work together to plan fun events that bring other Jews together, no matter what kind of Jew you are,” said Aaron Robinson, a student represtative for JSU.
“I’m trying to find the next generation of Jewish Student Union members,” Robinson, a sophomore psychology major, said when asked about his goal at the First Look Fair.
Sheets and various fun activities were laid out on the table for students to interact with, along with a signup sheet for information on future Jewish events.
“I’m just trying to check out some new clubs, get my foot in at the school,” said freshman Letters and Sciences student Jacob Sheedy. “I’ve always been involved in the Jewish community, back at home, so this drew my attention.”
Among the other Jewish-oriented clubs was MEOR Maryland, which had advertisements and information about Birthright trips to Israel along with other important events to know about happening on campus.
Devora Jaye, better known as “DJ” by those who frequent MEOR, is the associate director at MEOR Maryland. “MEOR is an amazing Jewish organization on campus for students who didn’t grow up super religious,” she said.
“We have Shabbat dinner every week, Challah bakes, Spring Break programs and we have trips to Israel and Poland. We have amazing leadership programs, and we can connect you to internships in Israel also,” Jaye added.
Rabbi Zalman Goldstein, educational director at MEOR Maryland, spoke a little about why MEOR came to the First Look Fair: “We are here to meet students! This is the best opportunity of the semester to meet new people, particularly freshman…we love this.”
MEOR Maryland is “dedicated to extending Jewish learning opportunities to the broadest spectrum of Jewish students at the University of Maryland, College Park,” according to the MEOR Maryland website.
Goldstein expanded on the opportunities available for students this year, including Freshman Fellowship.
“We are offering a Freshman Fellowship for the first time. There’s a lot of options for Jewish students on campus, so I think it’s a big deal when freshman come in, and to get them involved early to make sure that you give them exposure towards the beginning,” said Goldstein.
Another club that drew attention at the First Look Fair was One for the World, which is not a Jewish organization, but is looking to make change in this university’s community.
Junior Raquel Weinberg, a hearing and speech major and chapter representative, explained the club’s goal: “One for the World targets undergraduate and graduate students to give one percent of their future annual income to charity.”
“What the organization was built on is the idea of effective altruism, which is the idea that the money that you’re giving is effective. We pair up with…different charities and every cent that someone gives to the charity through One for the World will go directly to that cause,” Weinberg said. “We want to get the word out. We want people to start thinking about One for the World, and we want people to start giving, even if it’s not for One for the World.”