Insights from a Panel Discussion “Being Jewish on Campus Post-October 7th”

Led by Temple teen Ezra Sapadin, the Department of Lifelong Learning hosted a panel discussion with current college students, “Being Jewish on Campus Post-October 7th.” College is a transformative time, filled with opportunities for self-discovery, growth, and forging meaningful connections. The conversation offered invaluable insights and guidance for Emanu-El teens who will soon embark upon their own college journeys.  

“The Jewish College Panel allowed teens with completely different mindsets and experiences to begin to comprehend the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict in places of higher education and formulate mindsets as to how to go about it themselves” — Ezra Sapadin

A number of themes emerged from the discussion, and our teens left feeling empowered and inspired. Key takeaways from the conversation included:

Embracing the Fluidity of Jewish Identity: Your connection to Judaism evolves. Whether deeply involved or exploring, embrace this fluidity. Affirm your Jewish identity, even if not actively practicing.

Building Supportive Communities: Finding a supportive community is crucial, be it through campus groups, trusted friends, or family. Engage in open dialogue and address unsupportive attitudes to foster understanding.

Striking a Balance: Balancing academics, social life and advocacy can be difficult. Prioritize your Jewish life wisely, set boundaries and have one-on-one conversations for effective communication.

Navigating Controversial Conversations: Navigating discussions on Israel and other contentious topics needs openness and nuance. Be honest and critical about your views. Surround yourself with curious minds open to dialogue, and step away from unproductive environments when needed.

Maintaining Individuality: College is for exploration and self-discovery. Be proud of your identity, but don’t let it limit you. Embrace discomfort, venture into non-Jewish spaces and utilize social media as a platform for personal expression beyond activism.

Addressing Challenges: If faced with challenges such as unfair treatment from professors or conflicts in the classroom, don’t hesitate to seek support from the administration or fellow students. Ultimately, remember that your college experience is shaped by your choices and responsibilities.

With special thanks to Ezra Sapadin for facilitating the panel discussion, and Temple Emanu-El’s Department of Lifelong Learning staff, including Em Besthoff, for making the event possible. For more resources for teens, college students and families, visit our Stand with Israel page.