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Meet Sami, one of the Youth Initiatives' Lewis Summer Interns!

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Hi everyone! My name is Sami Simon, and I am so excited to be joining the Youth Initiatives team as a Lewis Summer Intern.

To introduce myself, I am an incoming junior at the University of Iowa. I grew up in Buffalo Grove, IL and I have lived there my whole life. From a young age, I began my Jewish journey by attending Hebrew school for many years where I prepared for my Bat Mitzvah. After my Bat Mitzvah, I went on the 8th grade Chicagoland teen trip to Israel, otherwise known as IsraelNow. My short time in Israel quickly impacted my Jewish Identity. In high school, I began participating in youth groups like BBYO and NCSY which helped me create lifelong friendships and connections. My senior year I served as the president of my NCSY chapter, a very rewarding leadership role, after spending 2 more summers in Israel. On top of that, I took advantage of the opportunities that I found through Springboard, and I went on 3 different school break trips to New York City, Tampa, and Los Angeles. These once in a lifetime experiences have helped me feel extremely connected to my Jewish roots and values.

After high school, I knew that I wanted to stay connected to the Jewish community throughout college. Before beginning college, I was extremely nervous about finding my place because of the relatively small Jewish population in Iowa, which was something that I was not used too. Sure enough, I found the Hillel on campus which basically serves as my second home. I have loved connecting with the amazing staff, and other students, who have made my experience and truly gave me a sense of belonging. I have continued to increase my participation with Hillel by going to programs, weekly Shabbat meals, serving on the student board, holding a position as an ambassador for Iowa Hillel, and much more.

Growing up, I wish I knew that there is a place in Judaism for everyone. There is not just one way to “be Jewish” and that is the beauty of it. As a Lewis Summer Intern, I am hoping to share this message and help others find their path on their Jewish journey. I want to continue to build my connection to Judaism as well as the Jewish community who makes all this possible.

Sami Simon

About the Author: Sami Simon is a junior at the University of Iowa where she majors in Education Studies and Human Relations. 

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