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unboxing what’s possible

helping students take pride in - and ownership of - their Jewish identities


What is ‘The Box’?


At  GW Hillel, we often talk about each student’s “Jewish Box.”  Received at birth - whether born into the most affiliated family or the least connected one - each Jewish soul is given this precious gift.  It is filled with opportunity - with education, holidays, community, growth.  It also has the infinite capacity to be filled - with more content, more experiences, more nuanced relationships that help a Jew to grow.  


Some families start helping their child unpack this box at a young age - with a bris, a baby naming, a first Shabbat dinner as soon as they arrive home from the hospital.  Other families put this box on the highest of shelves, never to dust it off - and then this young Jew comes to campus.  Sometimes our job at Hillel is to help a student dig deeper into a box they’ve had easy access to, helping to utilize the tools inside as a student emerges into Jewish adulthood.  At other times, we just need to provide the ladder to take the box off that high shelf.  In both instances, our work is to remind the student:  

That box is yours, just as much as it belongs to anyone else.  It is your choice to unpack and repack it, to decide upon the contents that hold the greatest value in your life.  It sometimes takes work to pack and unpack, but if you put the work in, the box - and the tools that come with it - will serve you well.

The Year of the Box is designed to lift up this message of Jewish pride and ownership, helping students approach identity building from a variety of modalities.  Most importantly, The Year of the Box will repeatedly remind students that Judaism is theirs for the taking - able to be molded, crafted, and utilized in support of their dreams to grow as individuals, find community, and positively impact the world for the better.  In addition to the box communicating this message, we will also provide the literal tools needed to take this Jewish empowerment and translate it into Jewish action.

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