Katherine Booska (any pronouns)

Title: Class of 2023

“I converted in college. It was a big process that required a lot of time becoming acquainted with a lot of different rituals. I had to think critically about what it means to live halachically as an adult with control over my life in a way that I didn’t have to before. 

There’s so much learning during the conversion process, but that holds true for living a Jewish life, you’re always learning. I learn things about Judaism and about living Jewishly every day. But only recently did I start to see myself as an active participant in the Jewish community and as someone who has the capacity to create spaces that make people feel good, comfortable, and enriched. 

My relationship with Judaism has changed a lot pre and post COVID. Pre-COVID, I was a scared freshman, and very much felt like I didn’t have a place at school. I’ve since learned how isolation and loneliness are incompatible with Jewish life. Through working with Rav Maya, I’ve realized how going to or hosting Shabbat at my own home and starting the Jews of Color Collective are things that I find joy in doing and ways that I can contribute to and make the community my own. 

College has also created the space for me to embrace all of my identities. Being the one Asian person in my high school class made me feel like I had this role to be the catch all of all the Asian people. But, at Berkeley, there are a lot of ways to be Asian; although, those ways are often illegible to the Jewish community, and vice versa.

Being here has also granted me the opportunity to embrace being a queer person and experience how being queer and Jewish intersect in really beautiful ways. For example, I was invited to a lesbian Passover Seder with all queer liberation themed food. This seder made me feel a part of the community and opened my eyes to how the Jews’ Passover story of the exodus from Egypt is similar to what this group of women is trying to achieve post-stone wall. Finding these intersections of my identities in active communities that are driven to achieve the same liberation has been really special.

I have loved being a Jew by choice and getting to create my own Jewish life. I’ve really loved meeting other young Jews of color and having them say, ‘I never thought I’d meet someone like you,’ because that is what I would say to adult Jews of color when I was first beginning this process. So, that, to me, is one of the best things, along with singing, cooking a big dinner on a Friday night, and getting to create little palaces in time.”