Since December, emails from The George Washington University flood my inbox. Most of them I disregard, knowing they are reminders to evaluate my professors from the past semester’s courses. All my professors are listed there — history, political science, economics and statistics; however, the best teacher of the semester is absent from the list.
In my three-and-a-half years at GW, Rabbi Yudi Steiner’s role in my development as a person can neither be quantified nor equaled (“Rabbis Face Off,” Dec. 19). As I reflect on my college career, I regret some decisions I made. There were people, classes and organizations I invested time and energy in with little return. My investment in Chabad GW and the Steiner family not only proved worthwhile, but also will continue to pay dividends far after my college experience.
Growing up in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore and graduating from a Jewish day school I hoped to broaden my horizon in college and finally escape the ever-present “Jewish bubble.” This plan seemed doomed from the start, as I instantly felt comfortable and connected with Rabbi Steiner.
Routinely attending Shabbat dinners and holiday celebrations, I found my niche in GW’s Jewish community, but it wasn’t until Passover that I began to understand Chabad and Rabbi Steiner. I went to his apartment to ask where to buy kosher-for-Passover food and heard the following conversation between Rabbi Steiner and another student:
Student: “Last year, I broke Passover after the second day. It’s just not what I do.”
Rabbi Steiner: “Wow! Two days! That’s amazing; maybe this year you can keep it for a third day.”
Initially, I chuckled. Only later did I realize the significance and importance of his comment. Rabbi Steiner does not judge people based on their religious observance but strives to help and guide them along their own personal journey.
Because of him, I have wrapped tefillah every day since this past Sept. 2 and plan to continue after graduation. A court order may be able to separate Rabbi Steiner from GW, but it will never be able to separate GW students from Rabbi Steiner. He has built a home at GW for us, taught us, mentored us and inspired us. His family is our family, and the students of GW will support him unconditionally in any and every way. He has been there for us, and now we have an opportunity and an obligation to be there for him.