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Firsthand on the Freshman Fellowship from Jake Green

The Freshman Fellowship was, easily, the best program I was part of this semester. Coming from four years of high school BBYO, I wanted to find another group that could combine social life with education, and Maimonides was beyond anything I could’ve hoped for. Knowing that I had something to look forward to on Tuesday nights made it easier to get through tough days, and the knowledge that I would be able to participate in an engaging conversation or listen to an interesting speaker had me looking forward to when our program would meet. Through guest speakers and enticing discussions, the members of the Freshman Fellowship were treated to an unforgettable program that undoubtedly fostered growth in our Jewish knowledge and our confidence in Emory’s social environments.

The guest speakers were a special treat of the Freshman Fellowship. Every other week (or thereabouts) a group of Emory Freshmen would be granted access to hearing a professional talk about their work. We heard from judges, rabbis, political consultants and even about the FBI. Each new person brought their own unique perspective of Judaism, as well as a story, and the Freshmen were able to see how wide ranging the effects of a Jewish heritage are. I always shared what our guest speakers would talk about with my grandparents, and my mother even came to see one of the more powerful speakers talk about the Tree of Life shooting. Each speaker had an impact bigger than just a few Emory Freshmen, and I think the members of the Fellowship understood that fact, helping us appreciate our guests more.

The Freshman Fellowship wasn’t just about guest speakers, as we were also treated to bi-weekly lessons from Rabbi Fleshel. These lessons never felt awkward, forced or tedious, an incredible feat of organization and leadership on Rabbi Fleshel’s part (especially given that we were totally online). Rabbi never let the online aspect of the program bother him, and I think it actually helped all of the Freshmen open up about our opinions. Rabbi taught us a wide range of topics, all the way from Jewish dating to how to make your life into a vacation, and no matter the topic he had a smile on his face and a positive attitude. All of these lessons taught us something, and all the lessons were highly enjoyable and always left me feeling better.


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