Zach Goldberg likes to hang out with Jews wherever he can find him. And at the University of Maryland, the Berman Hebrew Academy graduate finds no shortage of Jews. An aspiring lawyer, Goldberg, 22, also walks the College Park campus as a tour guide.
What are you studying?
I’m a government and politics major. After I graduate, I plan on going to law school. My favorite classes so far are related to that. They’ll be law school-style classes where we’ll learn case law and be given hypotheticals and have to argue for one outcome or another.
How has college life changed during the pandemic?
College life with COVID is not ideal. We are a very strong Jewish community here at University of Maryland and a lot of the communal strength comes from large, in-person events. Not being able to do those in person definitely has been hard for me because I do really like to join together with my community in that way.
What is your Jewish involvement on campus?
I am involved through Kedma, which is one of three major Jewish organizations on campus corresponding to each of the major denominations. Kedma is the Orthodox one. Religiously, I’m also involved with the Partnership Minyan and then I also just like to hang out with Jews wherever I can find them. There’s a whole lot of us here. The amount of times I’ve gotten bageled on campus is beyond counting.
Were there any challenges with transitioning from Berman Hebrew Academy to U-Md.?
It’s funny, the community here is so big that the typical Hillel Friday night rivals the total high school population of Berman. In terms of numbers, that’s been tremendous. The beautiful thing with that large community is that everybody can find their niche and their friend group while still being exposed to a whole lot of people from a whole lot of backgrounds.
How does Judaism relate to your major and your future plans?
In terms of prelaw, I think it translates exceptionally well. Before coming to Maryland I spent a gap year at yeshivah. I’ve learned a lot of Gemara. The skills that I’ve gained through the study of Talmud translate to the American legal system perfectly. I was able to go to these classes on day one and understand the logical flow of the law and the allegorical reasoning which were a lot of the skills that I had been using beforehand in my study of Talmud.
You’re also a tour guide on campus. How did that come about?
When I first came to campus, I went to what’s called the First Look Fair [activities fair] and the tour guides caught my eye. They’re a loud, energetic bunch, so it was hard to miss them. They told me a little bit about being a tour guide and as someone who enjoys giving informal tours, I thought it would be a fun way of getting involved on campus and meeting some great people while also working on my public speaking skills.
I’m far from the only Jew in Maryland Images, the tour guide organization. There’s also five or six of us Orthodox Jews in Images and we have a group chat where we can all get together and shmooze about Images-related stuff. It’s kinda fun that there’s enough Orthodox Jews here that we can have our own section of Images.
Guides have to walk backward while talking. How do you do that?
We actually have a saying in the tour guide organization that, biologically, turtles can’t walk backward and neither do we. Although we’re allowed to walk backward if we want to, there’s no requirement to walk backward. It’s a common misconception.