Why KOACH Matters

by Alyssa Blumenthal - KOC Editor - Queens College/Macaulay Honors College | Posted on June 9, 2013
Alyssa Blumenthal

In many aspects of life, equality is essential. For one, I believe that everybody, regardless of class, race, color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else, is entitled to freedom. Slavery is unacceptable, period. I believe that this right to freedom also means that everybody has a right to state his or her opinions and to stand up for what he or she believes in.

However, to blindly cry for equality in all situations is to belittle the importance of the individual and the self. By acknowledging that everybody indeed does have different thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values, we must also realize that we as humans are not all equal.

Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing. On the contrary, people’s differences are what make them and this world so exciting. After all, they are what make you and me special.

One of the ways I am proud to express my individuality is through my Judaism. I strongly believe that everybody’s spiritual and religious experience is, and should be, a unique one. After all, we each relate to the world differently and have our own personal experiences from which to draw spiritual meaning and motivation.

However, a life spent entirely alone and isolated is not one I would ever desire. It is not one in which I could ever feel fulfilled.

Judaism, as a religion, is one that also recognizes that there is time for the self and then there is time for something larger. Personal prayer and reflection are so important, but there are also prayers, rituals, and commandments that cannot be fulfilled alone. They require at least ten people, a minyan, a community.

In college, KOACH has been my community. I could not have engaged with my Judaism and explored my self without the support, guidance, and companionship offered by KOACH, not just on my own campus, but also throughout the country.

At Queens College, KOACH has been the only organization specifically providing support and programming for our non-Orthodox community throughout my time in school. And nationally, KOACH has been the anchor for my Conservative affiliation, reminding me that I am connected to a network of peers who care deeply about prayer, Israel, tradition, egalitarianism, and the Conservative Jewish way of life.

If we want there to be a future for our movement, we need to make sure other college-aged individuals have the chance to connect with Conservative Judaism. This probably will not happen at their home congregations, as most are sadly slowly growing older and smaller, with truly involved children and families few and far between. This may also not happen on their home campuses, as so many college Jewish communities today are dominated by students who fall on either of the extreme ends of Jewish affiliation and observance.

Right now, Conservative Judaism has a choice. It can choose to assert its importance and vitality as a movement or it can allow itself to fade, with its members dispersing into other denominations and independent minyanim.

Honestly, I have loved being a part of the Conservative Jewish community. I have especially loved being a college-aged Conservative Jew. But KOACH is the reason for this love. Without KOACH, where does that leave me? Where does it leave the rest of my peers who like me want to connect with Conservative Judaism, who believe in its ideals and tenets, but who do not know where to find the community Judaism stresses as so important if KOACH is not there?

I do not have the answers to these questions. But I do know that if the Conservative Movement cares about its future, it must not neglect its youth.

Tamuz 5773

Denominational Judaism