My name is Rabbi Eric Kotkin and I am the College Rabbi. I’ve been working with high school and college students for a number of years. I was ordained at Yeshiva University as a rabbi, and I received a second ordination from Rabbi Ephraim Greenblatt. I’m currently (still) working on my dissertation for my EdD in Education Administration. After hiding in school for most of my natural life I decided to make it a go in the working world. As I was calling around to different universities to see if they needed a Jewish chaplain I received the answer numerous times that the Jewish Student Unions would like to have one but they can’t for a variety of reasons: money, the Jewish population of the school was too small, or the issue of separation of Church and State. It came to me that I could provide some of the resources Jewish students who don’t have access to a campus rabbi can’t otherwise get. I ‘ve already set up the FaceBook, YouTube, MySpace, and I even got myself a UStream account to do online classes, but I am always open to suggestions of how to expand my services.
My street credit comes from the fact that I did not grow up religious, and I went to college just like you. I started getting religious in high school and continued getting more serious, my semester in Israel was a turning point for me. It was the first time I got to experience Judaism as a living, breathing thing. I spent those six months meeting Jews living as Jews from more backgrounds and headsets than I had ever experienced, even in college. I prayed with Moroccans and Tunisians, worked in an Ethiopian orphanage, studied with Hasidim complete with coats down to their ankles. I had one of those trippy spiritual moments looking out over the city of Beer Sheva as the sun rose. Now I wear a kippah, I have a beard, I’m married and I two little kids at home that everyone thinks are sooooo cute. And they are. I’ve been religious for 15 years now, and I’ve also been a metal head for 25. The first tape (yes tape) I bought myself was “Powerslave.” and I’ve been a music snob ever since. I have a fretless bass sitting in my closet that I just got a setup done on, and I’ve played all of twice since then. MTV’s decision to cancel Headbanger’s Ball in favor of trashy reality shows heralded the end of rock and roll as I was weaned on, though hearing new Alice in Chains on the radio the other day was a nice surprise. I’m big into Martial Arts and I’ve been doing Yang Family Tai Chi for over 3 years, though now my staff has been collecting dust. I’ve also run in a 5K for the past 3 years on Memorial Day weekend and I get involved in other random projects. I keep very busy. And like many college students I don’t really believe in sleep. But unlike most of you I don’t bother with coffee and just occassionally fall asleep in the middle of a sentance. It’s not polite though so you shouldn’t do it.