What Are Jewish First-Year Students Thinking?

Hillel is constantly changing to keep pace with college students. With the advent of the annual Beloit College Mindset List, Hillel offers the following unscientific survey of Jewish cultural influences that have helped shape the identities of this year’s freshman class.

Born largely in 1992, today’s freshmen will delight – if not surprise – their parents by becoming the graduating class of 2014 in four years. Here, then, are the Jewish ideas that are kicking around in the minds of today’s first-year students.

  1. Oreos have always been kosher.
  2. McDonalds has always served bagels.
  3. Women have always been rabbis.
  4. Soviet Union? What Soviet Union? Jews have always been free to come and go from something once quaintly called “The Soviet Bloc.” Some have even been in their towns and classrooms!
  5. iPhones and Blackberrys have always included Jewish holidays.
  6. Half of their parents have always been non-Jewish.
  7. September 11th is a distant childhood memory.
  8. They don’t remember the debut of Schindler’s List but the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has always been open.
  9. They don’t remember the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin or the death of the Rebbe.
  10. They barely remember the bombings of the Second Intifada.
  11. Israel has always had relations with Egypt, Jordan and the PLO.
  12. Trips to Israel have always been free thanks to Taglit-Birthright Israel.
  13. Israel has always been known for its high-tech wonders and not its kibbutzim.
  14. Israel has always had first-run movies and TV shows.
  15. They have more stamps in their passports than they have ever put on an envelope in their lives.
  16. Community service is a requirement for high school graduation.
  17. News from Israel has always been instantly available – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – on the Web. And Google has always translated Hebrew to English (and vice versa).
  18. Calls to Israel or elsewhere overseas have always cost less than $0.10 per minute – and have always been free via Skype.
  19. They learned the concept of Bar/Bat Mitzvah from Krusty the Clown.
  20. They LOVE to laugh at anti-Semites like Borat – especially when he is speaking Hebrew.
  21. The Real World has always been on television and nearly every season has included a Jewish cast-member.
  22. “Dylan” is Jakob, not Bob.
  23. Adam Sandler is the guy from the movies, not from Saturday Night Live (and they learned his “Chanukah Song” along with “Dreidle, Dreidle, Dreidle”).
  24. Jon Stewart has always been a late night host. Who is Johnny Carson?
  25. Willy Wonka is Johnny Depp, not Gene Wilder.
  26. Elliot Gould is known as the father of Monica and Ross Geller, not as Trapper John McIntyre.
  27. Judd Apatow is the new Steven Spielberg.

This post is courtesy Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.