Beloit College
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Nadia Hecker-O'Brien `15

Nadia Hecker-O'Brien `15

Nadia Hecker-O’Brien is Jewish with a social activist bent:  “My Judaism is what inspires me to be more politically active and helps shape my personal morals. I had a Rabbi that helped me open my eyes to how ancient tradition can really shape my values and ideas in a very modern way.”

[Nadia Hecker-O'Brien `15]

A gap year in Israel between 2010 and 2011 cemented that ancient-modern connection in a personal way, too. “It helped me realize that Judaism is part of my identity.  I felt like I belonged to a group of people.”

This super involved member of the Class of `15 - on the school’s track and soccer teams, in the Theta Pi Gamma sorority and a Resident Assistant - plans to major in Religious Studies and take a minor in African Studies. She’s also very involved with our student-run Hillel chapter. “Hillel has a lot of flexibility and diversity within the group. Jordan Friedman (who we nicknamed the unofficial student Rabbi) is very knowledgeable about the Torah; we sometimes use passages for a jumping off point for conversations about different aspects of Judaism, keeping Kosher, and life in general.

Growing up “culturally Jewish” in the Pacific Northwest, Nadia interned at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, did a lot of faith-based community service, and connected with Jews from all over America as a leader in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.  She remains heavily committed to the Socialist Labor Zionist youth movement called Habonim Dror.  “The movement runs summer camps all over the world; I have been involved both as a camper and a counselor.  At my camp there is always someone to guide you.  You can’t guide people without someone guiding you.”

When asked about her experience with religion Nadia says, “The process never ends.   It is always a continuous process of exploration.”