Hey everyone! My name is Maya and I began my summer internship at the Jerusalem Open House yesterday. In September I will embark on my fourth year at Bryn Mawr, a small women’s college outside of Philadelphia. I am an English major, which means I spent most of my time poring over critical thought, queer theory, poetry, and Victorian novels, a fact that both intrigues and horrifies my Indian-Jewish family.
My decision to major in English literature is inextricable from my passion for human rights. For me, literature is about empathy and human connection. I was drawn to Bryn Mawr because of its commitment to nurturing communities. The campus community, the feminist community, the writing community and the Jewish community all thrive at Bryn Mawr and I am so thankful to be a part of them.
The sense of community is also what drew me to the Jerusalem Open House. My friend Maiya interned at the JOH last summer and spoke enthusiastically about the connections she made here. The JOH offers many direct support services and leads initiatives for social change, but it also serves as a community center. I have only been here one day, and am already so delighted by the warmth and camaraderie I have found. Yesterday, we ate lunch family style, munching on bourekas – fried pastries – while crowded around a single table. I spent a couple hours painting colorful flowers on the wall in the youth room to make it more “chaimish” – or “homey.”
However, I am most excited about the opportunity to seriously engage with human rights issues with the JOH. I will be contributing to a number of different projects, including the Jerusalem Pride Parade, Jewish outreach and a program for rabbis participating in an international torah study seminar. On Friday, I will attend the first ever Pride Parade in Ashdod, a rather conservative city to the west of Jerusalem. I will write another entry chronicling experiences there!