News Article

Both a Religion and a Community

The test-tube menorah is a long-standing tradition of MIT Hillel during Hanukkah.

December 14, 2015

It turns out a small group of students were able to strongly bond over their hatred of the Saturday lunch meal. It turned into a running joke that we would show up and pay for a meal to complain about it more than actually eat it.

Adam Eagle ‘16 is part of this close-knit group of students of the Hillel community at MIT, a Jewish organization found on campuses worldwide. Eagle attends numerous Hillel events over the course of the week, including holidays and sessions focused on Jewish scholarship. Each Friday he co-leads the MIT Conservative Minyan, a communal service of worship. Afterwards, Eagle attends a Hillel Shabbat dinner with students and residents of Cambridge, saying traditional prayers and eating traditional Shabbat food. Frequently the next morning he also goes to the Orthodox Minyan and the subsequent Shabbat lunch.
Eagle was introduced to the MIT Conservative Minyan by Rabbi Fisher, who helped him become involved without adding to the many stressors of MIT. “Both Rabbi Fisher and Rabbi Goldfeder have played a large role in my experience at MIT,” said Eagle. “I have asked both of them for help on various issues over the years.”
Eagle’s experience with Hillel not only provides a conduit for practice of his religious beliefs but also a community of peers. “Many of my close friends at MIT I met through religious life, and they have supported me throughout my years at MIT,” explained Eagle. “There is nothing particularly religious about our relationships; our shared religious and cultural identities simply brought us closer together over the years.” Hillel opens its doors to a broad spectrum of Jewish identity and supports the pluralism found in the cultural and religious components of Judaism.
In addition to Hillel, Eagle is Course 6-3 and involved in Startlabs, a student-run nonprofit that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship among MIT students. He is also on the Executive Board of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), an international fraternity that seeks to provide a cultural and social community for male Jewish college students. The MIT chapter values tzedakah, Hebrew for charity, and annually holds an extremely lucrative and fun philanthropy that raises money for a different cause each year by pie-ing students, professors, and other MIT affiliates.
These experiences and communities of practice have significantly impacted Eagle’s experience as a student and person while at MIT. “Hillel has a stronger community than any other club I have been involved with,” said Eagle. “The friendships, arguments, jokes, and meaningfulness in our shared identity are the most rewarding aspects of religious life at MIT.”

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