Bates O’Neal’s fascination with the College began at a young age. He tagged along with his older sister for a campus tour and that set the hook. Since enrolling, he’s been reaping the benefits of a diverse course load and has discovered the rich history of Jewish culture in the Holy City.
While in high school, Bates traveled to Israel and it was there that he realized his true calling – to become a rabbi. He was drawn to the religious aspects of this pursuit, but he also found other connections. “Being a rabbi relates to so much of what I want to do. I’ve always been interested in psychology and leadership, and those things are central to a rabbi’s work. For me, Jewish studies ties back to everything that I hope to become. It’s just the perfect fit for me.”
What impresses Bates most about the major in Jewish studies is its versatility. “It involves history and philosophy, you also have the option of studying politics and, of course, language (Hebrew). I’d encourage any new student to consider it as a supplement to another area of study.” And Bates is doing just that by pursuing a second major in music (vocal performance).
To augment his coursework, Bates has been doing some independent research, digging into a collection of books he inherited. “I’ve attempted to compare Judaism with other religions and to compare it with non-Jewish cultures. My aim is to have more productive conversations about the differences. It’s been really cool to learn about all of this.”
Bates says that he’s also enthused about the support he’s getting from the Jewish Studies Program. “All the professors are great. Really, I haven’t met anyone in the building who isn’t just fantastic to be around all the time. You couldn’t find a better environment to be in – or better preparation for the future.”
Our students acquire a sophisticated understanding of the historical, religious, philosophical, literary, sociological and linguistic components of the Jewish experience. They do that through a variety of experiences, including Maymester travel courses, an exchange program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, a study abroad partnership with the University of Haifa, a Doing Business with Israel internship and taking Hebrew to fulfill their language requirement.
❱❱ Our program offers lectures by distinguished visiting professors and speakers along with discussions.
❱❱ The Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center features a student lounge, conference room, a Judaica library and a vegan, vegetarian and kosher dining hall.