Disengaging Jewish Autopilot
By Sammy Taubman, Georgia Tech '26
As a freshman at Georgia Tech, the past couple months have been the first time I had to be proactive to become involved in the Jewish community. Growing up in Washington DC, I was living on ‘Jewish autopilot’: many of my friends were Jewish and my family would go to services and celebrate holidays, and that was just the way it had been throughout my whole life.
Now that I am at Georgia Tech and living away from family, I had to decide exactly how much I wanted to incorporate Judaism into my life. This is a daunting question, and I was worried that it would be difficult to find ways to be a part of the community. It turned out that my worrying was unnecessary, as I quickly found that there were no shortage of social events, services, and dinners to be found on campus where I could meet and connect with other Jewish students.
Similarly, this year's High Holidays were the first time I would be celebrating without my family and friends; a major focus at home. At Rosh Hashanah we’d have dinner with my cousins and on Yom Kippur the break fast was always held with friends that I’d known since elementary school. Even though I couldn’t celebrate the high holidays with my family this year, I was able to find many events to go to at Georgia Tech and Hillel. Between a Shabbat dinner, Apples to Apples and honey, a honey tasting, and a break fast, I was able to maintain traditions that I value and to celebrate these events with Tech’s Jewish community, becoming closer to my friends in the process, as well as getting some good food.
The most meaningful part of the holidays were the parts that reminded me of home. For Rosh Hashanah, I went to Hillel services at Emory and was struck by how similar they were to services from my DC synagogue, something I’d never been able to appreciate before. I also had a chance to connect with my family—on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, I had a call with my brother in Michigan and my parents in DC where we could connect and share our Holiday experiences. I want to make sure that I maintain the traditions I grew up with and I’m looking forward to being a part of the Jewish community throughout my time at Tech.