Welcome (back) to Boston College Law! Today, I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Rachel Weiss, a Weinstein Scholar, on her experience joining the BC Law community.
Like most students coming into law school, I was extremely anxious. The source of my anxiety, however, did not just stem from the typical types of stressors that so many students face, such as embarking on a brand new and highly complex discipline, moving to a new city, switching careers, or making new friends. While I did share those concerns with my classmates, one of the biggest changes for me in coming to law school would be attending a Jesuit school as a Jewish student.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by others who shared my culture and religion. From an early age, I went to Hebrew School, spent summers at a Jewish overnight camp, then attended a predominantly Jewish high school, and even managed to end up at an undergraduate university with a sizable Jewish population. Knowing people who had also been raised in the Jewish tradition and having the support of my religious community were constants throughout my life.
Coming to Boston College Law School, I soon realized that things would be different. I was no longer surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and experiences to my own. As I started to navigate this adjustment, I was introduced to someone who would later become a major part of my transition to the BC Law community.
During my first week at BC Law, I was informed that I was my class’s recipient of the Weinstein Scholarship. The Scholarship was created by BC Law alumnus David Weinstein ’75, who formed the scholarship in order to honor his parents’ legacy. Through the scholarship, David supports Jewish students financially by making the burden of attending law school easier. David himself has gone out of his way for me, time and again, to be available to answer questions, offer advice on law school and my career path, and even introduce me to professors.
On one particularly memorable occasion, David presented me with tickets to a Red Sox game and arranged it so that I was able to sit with my Civil Procedure professor, Robert Bloom. In addition to checking in on me regularly, David has also helped introduce me to the Jewish community here at BC Law and in Newton. From inviting to me High Holiday services, to connecting me with past Weinstein scholarship students, David has been instrumental in expanding my Jewish network here.
Outside of my experiences with David, I have also found the BC Law community to be far more inviting and welcoming than I expected. This past spring I took part in one of BC Law’s public service spring trips, the Gulf Coast Recovery Trip. Throughout our travels, my group was accompanied by our faculty advisor, Father Fred Enman, S.J., as we assisted homeless individuals in the Houston area with filings for ID restoration, and also the nondisclosure and expungements of prior criminal records. During the trip Father Fred spoke about his faith as well as BC’s Jesuit tradition, and explained to us why he had been compelled to establish the Gulf Coast Recovery program. In our conversations, Father Fred expressed a sincere interest in learning more about my faith and my own spiritual beliefs. It was extremely encouraging to have someone interested in learning more about me and my background–something that has been recurrent during my time at BC Law.
In my experience BC has always made a genuine, concerted effort to allow me to comfortably practice my faith. Here, religion of all kinds and degrees is valued by members of the community and it really does show—whether through the cancellation of classes in respect for the observance of High Holidays, the willingness of group members to reschedule events when they conflict with religious commitments, or even just the simple questions that come up between me and my friends as they try to learn more about me and my faith.
I feel extremely fortunate and lucky to be part of the BC Law community and to have found mentors like David Weinstein who are so willing to offer their support and encouragement. In the Jewish tradition, there is a phrase known as kehila, meaning “commitment to community.” The concept of community is paramount in the Jewish faith. The practice of building communities is viewed as being critical to human fulfillment, and the community is expected to provide for all the spiritual and physical needs of its members. Although I am no longer one of many, I am happy to be somewhere that also values kehila.
Rachel Weiss is a second-year student at BC Law and a Weinstein Scholar. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.