So there weren’t any Jews in Hicksville, Iowa yet you somehow ended up at the Jewniversity of Pennsylvania, the place with the highest concentration of Jews between Brooklyn and Boca. Here are some fast facts so you’re not schvitzing when your friends bring you to Hillel.

The High Holidays

So you’ve gone to a Shabbat dinner at Hillel or two and you feel like you’re getting the hang of things.

But it’s a Friday night and no one’s on campus! This means it’s Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. Your friends were shown their tuition bill and got guilt–tripped into going home. Pro–tip: Say “shana tova,” and you might even get invited to dirty rush ZBT!

No one wants to get breakfast Allegro’s? Duh. That’s disgusting. You’re disgusting.

But if your roommate Aaron is kvetching more than usual about his 10:00am MGMT recitation, then it’s probably Yom Kippur. This means he’s fasting to repent for his (NSO) sins. Get him a bagel with schmear for dinner and you’ll be the noodle to his kugel.

Jewish Geography

You thought Penn would feel big, but it seems like everyone’s related!

No, you haven’t moved to an incestuous semi-autonomous region of the Tri–State area (well, you’re not not in one either). Since we’re all from the same two or three shtetls, everyone’s family. But you can join in too! Just say you have a cousin Samuel in New Rochelle and we’ll take the conversation from there.


You’ve seen Wet Hot American Summer, now imagine it with less attractive kids and more challah and you’ve got a Jewish Camp. 

Camp is the height of the year, so if someone asks you about it just cry that it’s over and you’ll be off the hook. In an emergency, talk about Bunk 8 and the summer Sharon gave Isaac a hand–job after Shabbat dinner.

Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

The “bar mitzvah circuit” is a rite of passage for urban 12/13 year olds, Jewish or not. Even your friend who claims he’s a WASP from Greenwich has been to at least four or five. It’s a tradition in the Jewish faith where boys and girls become men and women in the community. 

Except this isn’t your typical coming–of–age ceremony. For the cool price of $1 million, Lil Wayne performed and there was probably a chocolate fountain. Don’t be alarmed if people talk about making their grand entrance on elephants. I mean you only turn 13 once, right?

The Food

You kissed goodbye to bacon cheeseburgers when you landed in Philly. Those famous cheesesteaks you heard about? Not going to be a fixture at Shabbos dinner on the Main Line. It’s not all bad though. Pickles and latkes are actually pretty good. And Manischewitz beats Franzia any day of the week. Soon enough you’ll be asking your parents to have lox on the table when you get home.

Mazel! You made it through your first semester as a goy at Penn. Who knows? 

Maybe by the end of four years you'll make the ~cut~ and join fo real ;).


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.