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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Of course Brandeis not everyone’s first choice

Published: February 2, 2007
Section: Opinions

There was an article in the paper last week discussing whether or not Brandeis is anyones first choice school. To me, this topic seems to be ridiculous. Of course there are people whose first choice is Brandeis. If there werent, the university wouldnt bother with an Early Admissions program. But for people who still dont think that there exists a student who didnt apply to Brandeis as a last resort, I would like to say that I applied to Brandeis as my first choice.

Until the summer before my senior year in high school, Id never heard of Brandeis University. Now, some may wonder how that is possible, as I am a modern Orthodox Jew and finding a college with a decent-sized Jewish community was always one of my top priorities when searching for schools. But, somehow, the school managed to escape my attention. That summer, I worked with Rachel Margolies, class of 06, who had just finished her freshman year. We talked about college in general and more specifically about her experiences at Brandeis. Immediately I was interested. Who wouldnt be?

Academically, Brandeis is known to be near the top. It may not be Ivy League but it is certainly up there. The professors are highly qualified;

many of them are experts in their fields. Brandeis is one of few universities to have a creative writing department, the department I was primarily interested in. The professors in the department are accomplished authors and poets. Their experience and success are well known

In Brandeis, most people find that their religion is not only tolerated, but accepted. I keep Shabbos and Kosher and yet that hasnt impeded my academic, extracurricular, or social life at all. Sure, there are the occasional articles written by people who do not understand why the Jews wont date the non-Jews or why the religious kids may want a speaker to come in and talk about the importance of marrying within the religion. Those incidents are unfortunate, but the responses to these articles more than make up for them. Rev. Walter Cuenin, the Catholic Chaplain on campus, responded to the latter article, saying that he believes that it is to everyones interest, including Christians, that the Jewish community remains strong. Therefore, having a workshop to discuss this matter is not really offensive. It is vital.

When holidays conflict with classes and schoolwork, professors are always willing to make accommodations to ensure that I have adequate time to complete my assignments. My friends in other colleges dont find it so easy. Not all of their professors understand and are willing to make such adjustments. Its easy to keep shabbos.

When I joined the womens ultimate team on campus, I was worried about what it would be like to be on the team and be religious. While it says in every clubs charter that they cannot discriminate based on race, religion, etc., I was still worried about what would happen when we had team events and tournaments. I quickly found that I had nothing to worry about. No one on the team has ever pressured me to play on Shabbos. Kosher food is brought to banquet, practices arent held on Shabbos, transportation is made to get shomer-shabbos players to our weekend tournament in Maryland This year, I am the captain of the team. My friends even try and learn different ways to ensure that I can eat when I go to their homes and rooms.