CJL Hosts Jewish Athletes Luncheon
On Monday November 18th, the CJL hosted the first-ever Jewish Athletes' Luncheon. 16 student athletes came together to enjoy lunch and conversation facilitated by Rabbi Elie Bercuson, co-director of the CJL’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC). Rabbi Bercuson, a Canadian native and long-time ice hockey fan, proposed the idea for the luncheon after meeting Jerry Price, Princeton’s Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Athletic Communications, earlier this fall. Together, they reached out to identified Jewish athletes to invite them to participate in this special event.
"The goal of the program was to acquaint Princeton's Jewish varsity and club athletes with each other, with the staff of the CJL, and with the resources available for them at the CJL,” said Rabbi Bercuson. “Student-athletes are particularly busy, even according to Princeton's standards; they have little time for activities unrelated to academics, training, and competition. Since they are often unable to attend Shabbat and holiday events at the CJL, they frequently feel outside of the campus' Jewish community. We wanted simply to incorporate them into Jewish life at Princeton however we could."
The participants enjoyed a special lunch, prepared in the CJL’s dining facilities, and engaged in conversations about their experiences being Jewish athletes at Princeton. Many pointed to the uniqueness of being one of few, if not the only, Jewish member on their sports team and feeling appreciative to know that they had peers on other teams who had the same experiences and, sometimes challenges, with balancing the rigors of a sports schedule, the Princeton academic requirements and the desire to stay connected to their Judaism and Jewish practices.
Sarah Lossing '17, a member of the lightweight crew team, welcomed the opportunity to engage with fellow Jewish athletes. "As a freshman, I'm always looking for ways to meet new people. Being able to talk with other Jewish student-athletes was a great way to not only meet others, but also learn about some of the struggles and stories upperclassmen had to share”, said Sarah. “I haven't had any problems with crew and Judaism, but it's nice to know that I have resources I can turn to if there's a misunderstanding or I need advice."
The luncheon concluded with students being given travel-sized menorahs and candles to use to celebrate Hanukkah and an open invitation from Rabbi Bercuson to bring their teammates to the CJL for lunch or Shabbat dinner. Rabbi Bercuson said that he hopes to plan a second Jewish athletes gathering at the CJL next semester.