A colleague of mine who works as the campus rabbi at a prominent university in the American Midwest recently sent me the following observation: “One thing that unites Jewish students from across denominations is the importance of family in one’s Jewish identity. The problem is that their families aren’t with them on campus, and I’ve been shocked at how unprepared Jewish students have been to think about what a Jewish identity away from family could or should look like.”

While some might find the above observation alarming, I am not overly concerned by it. Campus life occupies a small fraction of our adult lives, and it is normal to struggle with questions of our Jewish identities at such a transitional age. However, I am struck by the importance of family in the lives of students. Leaders on college campuses then face the exciting challenge of developing ways for students to contemplate their Jewish identities and commitment to Judaism outside their familiar family environment.

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