When I told the people at my Orthodox Jewish high school that I was going to University of Iowa for college people were typically…puzzled. Why would anyone move to Iowa? Where would I go to shul? Where would I meet my beshert? To my shock, and the shock of pretty much everyone I knew in Chicago, going to school in Iowa made me more religious (and I’ve become less observant since moving to New York). Go figure.
Anyway, my own strange story makes it easy for me to believe and understand this story about the traditionally Lutheran Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania:
One of the hottest college campuses in the U.S. for Jewish students is also one of the unlikeliest: a small Lutheran school erected around a soaring stone chapel with a cross on top.
In what is being called a testament to word of mouth in the Jewish community, approximately 34 percent of Muhlenberg College’s 2,200 students are Jewish. And the biggest gains have come in the past five years or so.
Perhaps equally noteworthy is how Muhlenberg has responded: offering a kosher menu at the student union, creating a partnership with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and expanding its Hillel House, a social hub for Jews.
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.