MAYA H. '15
When I first met Dalia, I told her “I don’t do Jewish things.” She laughed, asked if I preferred coffee or tea, and gave me a knowing look. That was almost four years ago.
When BDS hit our campus, I was out front working to expose the movement’s inconsistencies and hateful undertones. Dalia and Rabbi Daniel provided me with the matzo ball soup and support I needed to deal with the consequences of speaking up. They not only provided me with a shoulder to cry on, but were there to help guide me to make more thoughtful decisions about how to best achieve my goals.
When a good friend of mine posted online about how she was sick and tired of Jews’ “Holocaust crocodile tears,” Dalia and Daniel were there to comfort me and reaffirm my identity. When a student was called an Israeli terrorist for speaking Hebrew on the phone with her mother, they were there to show their outrage and support. I am not sure how I would have been able to stand up to it all without knowing that they had my back.
Dalia pushed me to reevaluate my understanding of not only Judaism but myself. Before coming to Vassar, the only relationships I had with Orthodox Jews were cursory nods on crowded sidewalks. I knew nothing of their way of life other than that the girls wore stockings (even in summer!) and that the men had very dull wardrobes. I assumed their conservative dress translated to a conservative outlook on life.
I am embarrassed by just how wrong I was. Because of Dalia, I am a more curious and critical person. She has made me both more confident in my vulnerabilities and more steadfast in my principles.
Today, my life is very much centered in the Jewish world. I work at an Israeli non-profit, sit on the NYC Metro Council for an LGBTQ Zionist organization, and am involved with initiatives launched by the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute.
Without Dalia, all of my Jewish involvement would not have been possible. I am so grateful to have her and her family in my life.