Being an orthodox Jew, I only eat kosher food. Finding kosher food on campus is very challenging as there is not that much of it available. Kosher food is only sold in one part of the commons on one or two shelves on a single refrigerator. The selection consists of only one type of boxed salad, tuna sandwiches and deli sandwiches. This is not much of a variety, especially for those who could be allergic to these food items. Many times this refrigerator will be closed but others will be open that do not have kosher food on their shelves. Another source of kosher food on campus is the kosher corner at true grits (the UMBC dining hall). This is one little corner in the entire dining hall that has hot kosher meals delivered to it. Although the food that is brought there is tasty and does have a little more variety than that of the commons, it is also open to anyone else who wants, including non-kosher eating students and faculty. Many times I will pay and enter the dining hall in hopes of having a meal there just to find out all the kosher food is gone and most of the people that ate it do not even keep kosher. There are many different problems with true grits. If they are going to open the small kosher section to the whole student body they should pour more funding into extending it. Additionally, the dining hall is only open a few hours out of the day, Jewish students that are on campus all day from early morning to sometimes late at night will not have many options when it comes to purchasing food on campus.
My original goal was to expand the variety on campus and get some more funding. I quickly realized that was a very big task that requires a lot of planning and time. I reformulated my goal and made it to motivate as many students as I would be able, to take on this goal and continue it in upcoming semesters so that in the future the kosher varieties will increase.
I have spoken to many of the Jewish students on campus about taking on this role. Of those there were some that said they would be interested. The names of these students are Shmuel Gabai, Adam Hariri, Aviva Zapinsky, Doni Mayer and Eitan Hariri. They all have busy schedules but said that it is a worthy cause and would love to help make it happen. This group will motivate others to join and form a coalition of people aiming towards this goal. As it gets bigger with the more people they attract, the bigger their impact will be. I have no doubts that this movement will cause change.
This project was a big one. My aspirations were very high and I underestimated how much time and effort it would take to get something to happen. The hardest part of the project was getting funding and attention. There is not a lot of demand for Kosher food on campus as a very small percentage of the students are Jews. Additionally getting their attention is difficult as few people want to take part in something that does not have much support. They feel as though their efforts will not cause much of a change. I mostly spoke to a few people at a time and never really any large groups. I feel like I should have only started like that and once I had the attention of a handful of students, then I should have spoken to a larger group and have support from the people who had already said they would join help recruit others.
This project has given me a whole new appreciation for activism and those who have done it and caused change. I never really understood how much effort it took to make something happen until I got involved in my project and realized it was not easy. I had to reformulate it and make changes many times. My original goal did not seem like a very hard one to accomplish at first, but I quickly realized how much preparation and time it required. I have learned that adequate research must be done before starting a project of any sort of activism and it will not happen without support of any and every kind. I have also learned that I can inspire change by speaking to people and relaying my message and my goal. My understanding of the meaning of the word “activism” has changed. I now believe that it is not just successful activism when the job itself is done, but activism can take many forms. Inspiring others and getting them to believe in what you are doing is a victory of its own. Activism can take many forms and this project helped me understand that. I learned a lot being a part of this class and taking part in this project.