When I first started coming to Hillel, I was not yet attending the University of Illinois. In fact, I found myself in a bit of a lull. I had recently left my old college and had moved back to my parent's home a mere 20 minutes from campus. I was relatively lost and confused. So I stumbled into Hillel from the suggestion of my mother, not expecting much. My old college had a Hillel of maybe 6 or 7 regulars that I didn't connect with, that didn't make me feel at home. I assumed this Hillel here would give me much of the same experience.
That's not what happened. Way back, over 2 years ago, when I walked in for my first Shabbat meal, I experienced something completely different. Hillel has become the most important aspect of who I am to this day. It may not have a presence on my resume and it may not have a strong hand in my education, but it sits comfortably in my soul. Hillel has provided the guardrails for my puzzled philosophy; it's provided me with an open door to caring staff that are always there to lend a hand or an ear (I mean who can't fall in love with Erez's beautiful bald head, anyway). It's given me the opportunity to meet some of my best friends; it's given me a place to study.
I have not been on the student board and Hillel is no longer the only place I feel welcome on campus, but I continue to come back and I continue to feel something. My mother must have been right, there must be something special about this place. Let's band together and get ready to welcome the rest of our Hillel family for yet another amazing Big Ten Shabbaton, and remember, we're the real U of I.
College of Media, Class of 2015