Parent’s Weekend

UIC HillelIt’s difficult to explain the lump in my throat; sitting in a circle at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) Hillel house with my oldest daughter and her newfound family. The leader is warm and musical while students from 5 area colleges gather to pray, laugh and support each other.

After a short Kabbalat service in the basement all purpose room, we head upstairs to find another hundred or so students gathered for Shabbat dinner. Tables were set, grape juice poured, and we began with the traditional washing of the hands, followed by the blessings over the wine and a variety of homemade challah bread.

The energy in the room was palpable and made one feel connected no matter where you came from in the city. The kosher meal of chicken, salad,vegetables and couscous served buffet style was prepared by some students and tasted divine. Even more thrilling was the conversation and excitement that was felt throughout the evening.

Many introductions and thank you’s were made as were some announcements about future events, during which time students were socializing and having fun notably without the interruption of cellular technology. Watching my daughter connect with and hug her many friends here, made me realize that her home away from home is Hillel with students from 5 area campuses; she has found her community, a place to fit in and feel welcome.

Walking to the train alongside two brothers also headed back to the city, winding throughout the UIC campus, I felt elated. Both because of my daughters’ happiness and my own sense of relief; that some of the things we taught her and the traditions we hold dear, have a place in her life too.

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