And everything came to a screeching halt. All our plans, expectations, classes, and projects got completely changed or cancelled. Some goodbyes were exchanged, but they were few and incomplete, said with the hope that we would still see each other in a couple of weeks. But then classes were put online for the rest of the semester and I hurt for my community that was suddenly so scattered.
A community is a gift. It is not something that is given immediately to every college student. Illini Hillel, however, offers that community at the front door, with open arms, a smile and usually coffee and chocolate.
This sense of community is visible through the way students interact at Hillel. It seen in the moments we share, the hugs we exchange and the jokes we tell. Before we left campus, I would walk into a Hillel program, look around, and the only word that could come to mind was “love.” The community at Illini Hillel is valuable to students because it is rooted in love.
Right now, a lot of students are hurting. They are home with their parents, like me, missing the independence college offers and the Jewish community they love. My heart is with theirs, but it is hopeful. To quote an overplayed Passenger song, “you only know you love her when you let her go” – this time has reminded me to value the tangible moments of community. I remember the face-to-face interactions I had with my friends – the time we lay on the floor of Illini Hillel, played games around a table, and occasionally suffered through schoolwork together. This experience has taught me, as I am sure it has many of us, to treasure being around each other. I hope we will be able to experience those moments again soon.