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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Pimp my sukkah. by Sam M. '07

I really can't think of a better blog entry title than that.

DID YOU KNOW? If you eat too many carrots, your skin will turn orange due to excess carotene.

So, I’m not Jewish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But no, really, I’m not Jewish. Not even a little bit.

From: Jordyn
To: [email protected]
Date: 10/5/2006 1:24 PM
Subject: Pimp My Sukkah.

Hello everyone!

FYSH (first year students of Hillel) is holding a fantastic event TODAY in our Sukkah on the Kresge Oval. We’ll be decorating the Sukkah in the most fantastic of ways (think Pimp My Ride meets the MIT Sukkah) and enjoying Pizza (in the Hut). Come by and join us, we’ll be there from 4-6:30.

See you there!


But just you try telling that to MIT Hillel! I think that one time there was some form or something that I had to send back to MIT, and it asked for my religious affiliation and I left it blank, because that’s pretty much accurate. Boy, that was a mistake. Apparently having no apparent religion and a last name that isn’t Kim or Rizos or Lzhpb*n!xobile is code for “JEWISH!” in Hillel’s book.

Actually, one of my really, really Catholic friends with an equally German last name is also on Hillel’s mailing list, so at a university where “Chang” takes up two entire pages of the campus phone directory, maybe presumed ehtnicity is really the only criterion they use.

Anyway, my first encounter with Hillel was when I received my first admission-related mailing from MIT. It contained a form to apply for my student ID, a form to apply for my athena username, some instructions on the incoming freshmen essay and math evaluations, and, of course, a green pin with “M.I.T” written on it in Hebrew. I think I ended up giving that one to one of my (actually Jewish) friends as a novelty item.

So then I got to campus and everything was great. I made new friends, freaked out over 8.01 exams, got free food, stalked fellow studentson the internet–you know, general freshman stuff. I just thought it was weird that I kept getting e-mails from Hilleevery two days inviting me to all of their events. But whatever, I was a frosh and didn’t know how to use Moira to unsubscribe myself, and at that time I loved reading e-mails! I didn’t worry too much about it.

Then one fine afternoon I was in the middle of Mastering Physics when the phone rang in my dorm room.

David: “It’s for you, man.”
Me: “Hello?”
Hillel: “Hey, Sam?”
Sam: “Yes.”
Hillel: “Hey, this is Hillel. We’re going to services for Yom Kippur tomorrow and we wanted to know if you wanted to come with us.”
Sam: “Yeah, you guys have been really nice to me and everything, and I really appreciate all the hospitality you’ve shown me, but I’m actually not Jewish.”
Hillel: “Oh, okay. *click*”

Ha! That’s the end of that story, I thought.

No no, not really. The e-mails kept on coming, and over the next few months I got a dreidel for Hannukah and some kind of delicious candy, Kosher for Passover. To tell you the truth, that was WAY better than the candy cane and easter egg I got from Campus Crusade for Christ, so I considered converting for a few days. No no, not really. But I don’t know why everybody is so down on organized religion all the time.

And I kept reading the e-mails, just for my own amusement. A kosher chili cookoff (no cheese on top, I guess?). A Latke-Hamentaschen debate. Some kind of party held at the height of Nelly’s popularity, which bore the slogan “It’s getting hot in herre, so emigrate to Israel with all your clothes!” A Hawaii-themed Jew-au at the MIT skating rink. A party to redo all the CPW assignments and match up Jewish prefrosh with Jewish hosts.

By sophomore year I was getting smarter–I understood how mailing lists worked, for one thing. So after the latest extravaganza of Judaism that I couldn’t go to anyway, I decided to take myself off the Hillel mailing list “Well, that’s about five less e-mails a week I’ll get.” I thought.

But to no avail. After a quiet period of about two weeks, I started getting the e-mails again–and this time, they were BCC’ed! Curses! Now I didn’t even know which of the 73 Hillel-related mailing lists I was on. Looking back, I think it’s kind of like the Borg–whenever you defeat them, they come up with a new defense system so they can’t be defeated again by that same method.

I wonder if anyone in Hillel will ever read this entry. And if so, how long it will stay up after that.

Still, I didn’t get any more candy from them after that, so maybe somebody in their administration took the hint, or just has it out for me now. Anyway, the point of this entry is that if Habitat for Humanity were as passionate about recruiting as MIT Hillel is, all of America east of the Mississippi would just be one giant suburb.

Oh, and they also sent me this comic about a Shabot 6000, the Jewish robot.


6 responses to “Pimp my sukkah.”

  1. Evan '10 says:

    I kind of happen to like being free of Hillel e-mails, so I’m going to be more anonymous than usual, but I actually am Jewish, and I haven’t gotten any correspondence from Hillel. I think I must just be luckier than most.

  2. Jess says:

    I kind of remember you made a post about this last year and I was so jealous because I wished someone would mistake me for Jewish and feed me latkes.

    Then again, my dad actually lived in Burton 2 when he was here, and loved every minute of it. No joke. So maybe it’s genetic? (Or I’m just hungry. Yeah, that’s it.)

  3. Heh, sorry.. but your borg analogy made me giggle. Just wanted to say that.


  4. Victor says:

    If “paris is worth a mass”, the free latkes is worth the Hillel Mailling list.

    Free Food is worth it every time.


  5. Zach '10 says:

    so im NOT the only one who has never referenced any fact that i am Jewish yet i get Hillel correspondence nearly every day….Awesome to know I am in good company. I got the pin and everything right after admission as well. And i always (fruitlessly) amd searching for the unsubscribe directions on Hillel mailings. Oh well, i shall make the best of it as you did smile

  6. Anthony says:

    This is amusing – although my name is always a source of confusion either because nobody can spell it, or because people think it’s Hispanic. It came to my attention that a “rizo” is a curl (hair) in Spanish, and scores of Spanish speakers everywhere were e-mailing me asking for hairstyling advice. It took a while to clear that up. smile