A Day in the Life of: A Jewish UC Berkeley Student 👩🏼🎓📚🏫
If all the headlines coming out of college campuses are to be believed, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the first thing UC Berkeley Junior Shira Klasky-Gamer thinks when she wakes up is “Oh man, what am I going to do to protect myself from all the anti-Semites lurking in the shadows to attack me? I’d better not wear my Magen David necklace today.”
However, according to Shira, this is absolutely not the case. “I get this question all the time,” she tells us, with a hint of exasperation in her voice.
“My name is literally Shira, like in Hebrew,” she continues.” “I look pretty Jewish. I used to wear a Jewish Star on my neck, every day before it broke. I wear rings with Hebrew on them. I have on my computer —which I use in every class — my “Go Bears” sticker in Hebrew, and my Hillel stickers. I have JCC stickers. I’m obviously a pro-Israel Jewish student and I have never, not once, felt unsafe on campus.”
“But,” she concludes, “If I ever were to feel unsafe, I know that Berkeley Hillel and the Hillel community is there for me.” Then, she quickly changes the subject to one she greatly prefers talking about: “Jewish life, the Jewish community, is thriving on campus.”
Instead, the first thing on Shira’s mind every morning, whether she’s making breakfast or out for a run, is how to plug more Jewish students into Jewish life. Whether it’s co-chairing a social justice book club or “bageling” (“[Not] a real word, I’ve learned, but I’ve made it into one; a verb!”), where she picks up picnic blankets and bagels from Noah’s, brings them to the world glade in the middle of campus, and schmoozes with 15-20 students every Monday.
Then there is class, of course. Though Shira, a legal studies major, enjoys class immensely, most of her waking hours — and almost all of her time outside of class — is spent with Hillel, both as a student volunteer and as an intern.
“I grew up in a very strong Jewish community in Los Angeles, so I always wanted to be involved in Hillel,” she tells us. “It was one of the first places I went when I got to campus, if not the first. Now, every day of the week, I do something with Hillel.”
When asked what the future might hold for her, she didn’t know much about what her life post-graduation would look like, but in the meantime, she’s got work to do and is motivated to complete it.
“I’m not graduating. I still have time to make an impact here, shape this community, and bring other people into this space that’s really become my home on campus.”