All religions need spiritual leaders in their communities. These leaders can help the religion develop and foster a positive relationship with the other members of the community. While the goal should not be to proselytize, the leaders of the community should seek to improve the understanding and knowledge in an inter-faith message. These types of messages help to reduce negative beliefs and stereotypes about members of another religion. In this manner, it helps to create mutual respect and understanding among individuals of various belief systems.
I firmly believe that these are my goals as a Jewish leader on campus. I do not seek to bring others into Judaism as a religious system. However, if a person is curious about the religion or wishes to further explore it, I would most certainly invite the person to a religious service or offer them reading materials. It is important to recognize that I would do this for anyone, even if the person does not wish to consider Judaism as a personal religion. I also believe, though, that it is important that the other individual does not feel as if I am trying to “recruit” the person for my religion. Rather, I think a mutual discussion is best. I want to encourage individuals of all faiths to share their personal faith with others in a non-judgmental, strictly educational format. These types of discussions help to broaden the minds of individuals and increase their awareness. I believe having these discussions will help me to become a leader in the Jewish community on campus.
I also believe that I can be a leader on campus by ensuring that anti-Semitism does not occur on campus. I strongly believe that all individuals must be concerned about the discrimination of any minority group. In a way, we are all minority groups. An individual may belong to a religion, race, or gender identity that makes him or her a minority. Even “white males” are becoming a minority. Therefore, we should harshly discourage any discrimination. I also believe that I should work to keep the tragedy of the Holocaust alive in the collective memory of the world. This tragedy did not only impact the Jewish community, although this was by far the largest group. It also struck members of the gay community, those of Roma descent and individuals with disabilities. This clearly shows that a wide variety of individuals could be easily targeted for extermination if we do not remain ever vigilant in the pursuit to end hatred and discrimination.
However, I also believe that I should focus on ensuring the happier aspects of this religion. I hope to encourage people to celebrate the wonderful holidays associated with Judaism. This is particularly true of my favorite Jewish holiday, Purim! I think all college students can agree to celebrate another form of Mardi Gras! It is a holiday that is perfect for the college experience.