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Could I Stay Orthodox in a Secular College?

Today on Jewcy: Despite warnings from friends and rabbis alike, I went to a school with little Orthodox presence.

Gabriela Geselowitz
June 27, 2018

On Lag Ba’Omer, the last Wednesday of the semester, I sneaked past a challah-baking event to say goodbye to Stony Brook University Chabad Rabbi Adam Stein. Rabbi Adam and I danced with his children to the music from a livestream of Meron in his backyard. At a pause, I tapped my kippah and tzitzit and said, “I wanted to rub it in. You were wrong; I did stay religious these four years.”

Rabbi Adam responded with a chuckle, “You cheated. You went home every Shabbos.”

Since graduating, I’ve told this story to friends and rabbis with responses ranging from, “I agree: That’s cheating,” to “I never had any doubts you’d stay Orthodox” to “I thought I’d have to cut you out of my life after a year in secular college.”

Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of

Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of

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