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Jewish Learning Fellowship Q&A: "Applying ancient text to modern life"

Oct 30, 2019
JingJing Jacobson
JingJing Jacobson,
UNC-Chapel Hill ‘20
Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Why did you sign up for JLF? 

I’m in the Jewish sorority on campus and last spring, we heard that Hillel was offering a new JLF topic, Sex, Love and Romance. We thought it would be a really cool thing for us to do together. It was an interesting topic that you wouldn't necessarily talk about with your parents, but here we still had the opportunity to learn about it from a Jewish perspective.

What was JLF like?

It was really interesting. Not what I was expecting. There were so many different people in the room. It was cool to hear things from different perspectives that I would not have considered otherwise. This was an all female cohort, so we could talk openly and everyone in the room could relate to issues of sexism. We had our own community. Every day, we focused on a new piece from the Torah and a new theme. Like, what does the Torah have to say about soulmates? what does it have to say about the role of a spouse? It wasn’t all about romantic relationships either. We discussed other relationships in our lives as well.

How has JLF affected your college experience and your connection to Judaism?

One of the main things I got out of JLF was learning that it’s okay to be critical of the Torah. Our rabbi wasn’t afraid to discuss why a piece of the Torah was problematic. It helped me understand that acknowledging those parts of the Torah doesn’t mean you’re a bad Jew and doesn’t mean you can’t learn important lessons from it. Even though the details aren’t applicable to the modern world, it pushes you to think differently. For example, the Torah has a list of all the reasons you can’t have sex with your partner and it was interesting that a lot of it still felt applicable. It was cool to see that we still share values with this ancient text and that the text can be applied to modern day romantic relationships. After my bat mitzvah, I didn’t have any Jewish education, so I really enjoyed JLF. I’m thinking about doing another cohort in the spring.

Also, I didn’t know anybody at Hillel, so I was a little scared to come to programs. But JLF changed that. It’s a great way to meet other Jewish people. I would recommend doing it early on in college. It’s a good way to get involved in the community. It also gave me the opportunity to get close with Rabbi Melissa, who is super great. She’s non-judgemental and never makes you feel uncomfortable. 

North Carolina Hillel Foundation
210 West Cameron Avenue
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 942-4057

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