You Should Know… Tamar Jacobson

Photo courtesy of Tamar Jacobson

Tamar Jacobson, 21, is a senior at the University of Maryland majoring in public health science. She is the president of Kedma, the school’s Orthodox Jewish community with several hundred members, president of club basketball and volunteers for Dunk, a basketball program that brings U-Md. students to nearby schools that can’t afford after-school basketball programs.

How did you get involved in basketball?

I’ve played basketball my entire life, from the third grade basketball team through high school, and absolutely loved it. I loved basketball as a form of exercise and as a competitive sport. I knew that I didn’t want to stop having the organized, competitive sport aspect in my life. So at First Look Fair, where all the clubs table and tell you what they are and ask you to join, I found club basketball. I joined the third week of school and have been involved ever since.

What are your responsibilities in running Kedma?

My big responsibility is making sure the other members of the Kedma board are supported in accomplishing what they’re supposed to. We have 10 members, including myself, on the Kedma board. Each person has various responsibilities, whether it’s leading social events or educational events. Those are big tasks for every board member. My job is running meetings and making sure everyone has the tools to run their events, go over their responsibilities and help them out with their tasks.

How did you become president?

I’ve been a member of Kedma since my freshman year. It’s been my primary social group and religious focus at Maryland. For a long time, I was just a member and attended all of the events and prayer services which were made up of a lot of Kedma students. I really benefited from a lot of their activities, and so during my junior year I decided I wanted to be involved in helping create that atmosphere and environment for other students. I ran for vice president and was vice president my second semester of junior year and I’m in presidency this semester.

What Kedma activities are your favorite?

There’s so many! We have specific annual events that are really, really great. We just had our annual dodgeball tournament, which was around 200 people in the gym. Everyone dresses up in crazy outfits and the whole community shows up to compete or watch us play dodgeball. We have a very, very diverse community, which is really, really amazing. That means that some of our specialized events cater to smaller subsets of Kedma, but certain social events, like the dodgeball tournament, everyone gets really, really into it. It brings
everyone together.

Where are you trying to improve Kedma?

I think the biggest thing that could be improved is making the diversity of the community more unified. It is important to continue to try to welcome all these different people who celebrate their Judaism differently or have special interests, making it feel like more of one community. So that means having Shabbos meals that include a wide variety of people or having every person feel like they have someone to talk to. We don’t want Kedma split into different groups because of how large the community is.

What would you say to potential students?

A huge community gives you options. For some people, it may seem very intimidating. I come from a school with 11 kids in my graduating class, so going into a large community like this was quite intimidating. But the nice thing is that it allows you to find your people. You don’t have to settle for less.

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