Rabbi Topek Fund

Yom Kippur Speech - Daniel Lev, Class of 2020

Student Reflections

Daniel Lev, Class of 2020

 

G’mar chatima tova and shanah tova to everyone here.

 

My name is Daniel and I am a third-year student here at Stony Brook. I study Applied Math and Computer Science, but most of my interests revolve around fitness and producing music. I am a proud Israeli, a proud Jew, and a proud Zionist, and I could not be happier with the Jewish experiences I have had here, through Hillel and other Jewish organizations on campus.

 

Being Jewish means a lot to me. I grew up in a conservative, Jewish home and I was heavily involved in Jewish life until I came to college. As someone fluent in Hebrew, I always felt at home in the Jewish community; but, in my first year of college, I was hesitant to get myself involved. I was nervous and unsure about what it would be like and if it would be enjoyable; quite simply, I was scared to step out of my comfort zone. My mom even went out of her way to contact Jewish leaders on campus, but I still didn’t give in. And, to be honest, it was a pretty uneventful first year. I did well academically yet I suffered socially, and I wasn’t broadening my interests outside of academics. That is where Hillel came in.

 

I started by going to High Holiday services around this time last year, then by going to Maimonides classes on Wednesday nights. That is where I met Jenn, our Director of Jewish Life, and Gal, our Israel fellow, who were both in their first few months working at Stony Brook. They were so friendly and approachable, and I immediately saw a glimpse of what the Jewish community at Hillel could offer me. I began getting more involved, even showing up to events early to help out, and meeting other Jewish students on campus, including Hillel e-board members. It was always a welcoming, enjoyable environment and I always felt accepted in every regard. In March, I attended AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington, D.C., where I further explored the political relationship between Israel and America. At the end of the year, I surprisingly received the “Emerging Student Leader Award”, which brings me to today.

 

This year, I decided to step up and become a Jewish leader on campus. Hillel has given me the confidence to stand tall as a Jew and to stay connected to my Hebrew and to the State of Israel. I am the treasurer of the newly-formed Seawolves for Israel, a non-partisan, non-religious, pro-Israel club, and I also represent StandWithUs on campus as an Emerson Fellow. Thanks to the leadership of Jenn, Gal, Rabbi Joe, and Rabbi Shlomo and Dr. Peryl Agishtein, I have become better educated about Judaism and Israel, had the opportunity to spend time with other Israelis like myself, and have experienced countless amazing events, both on campus and off campus, that have enriched my Jewish experience as an Israeli here at Stony Brook University. There are contribution cards inside of your prayer books and we hope that each one of you will help Hillel to continue to provide quality Jewish life at Stony Brook.

 

I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have been given and I plan on bringing original, unique programming to campus, on top of some of the Hillel classics. I am incredibly excited to be a part of this amazing community and help other students experience the same journey that I have!

 

Thank you.

 

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