Tuesday, January 6, 2015

UPDATED: Why I'm Studying Judaic Studies, and Why You Need to Let Me Live My Life

Let me preface this: there is nothing in life that stays stagnant. Everything changes. People change, perspectives change, situations change- we change every day. But you knew that... I don't think I did. Or at least, I didn't want to believe it. This article is for all those who keep asking me, taunting me, or annoying me for changing my major. I did not let anyone down. I shouldn't be thought of doing so. I'm living my life, doing what makes me happy, and taking a risk. I'm taking a risk not to be different, but to be happy and to be me. I don't want to live a mundane life, I want to be remembered and I want to have made an impact when I am gone. This is me. My name is Max Bleich.

I have always been interested in technology. This is a tech blog. At least, it was. I used to post here a lot. Now it's basically an archive I keep around for shits and giggles, and for telling my friends and family that I have a website because people think that is cool for some reason. But needless to say, I'm a tech geek. I geek out when I see new stuff from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, Nintendo, Sony... did I mention Apple?

Anyways, I like to write, and I like to talk tech. But it has always been a hobby for me. Despite that, everyone in my life has always pushed me to try and pursue this odd fascination with consumer technology as a career. Again, this is my hobby. "Well, if you like it so much, make a living off it! You could make a fortune!" "But, that's not what I-" "You can be so wealthy!" "Sigh." Yeah, I know you know where this is going, and I do too. I lived this. For a long time, I was convinced that I should be a Computer Engineer, no a Computer Programmer! "How about an Electrical Engineer?" "You're good at math and science, why not pursue it?"

A valid point! Why, if you're good at something, don't you pursue it? Here's what I ask: where is the satisfaction, in doing something, just because you're good at it? This is where my own deep opinions of life and happiness come in. I don't get a high from math and science. I don't. I don't even get a high from talking about technology. I enjoy it, but it doesn't give me the satisfaction I need.

While I was in high school, I was heavily involved in BBYO, a teen-led Jewish youth movement. BBYO used to stand for B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. For some reason, in 2002, BBYO split from B'nai B'rith International, and became its own organization. For four years, this was my life. I owe so much to BBYO. This organization made me the man I am today, prepared me for college more than high school ever could, and most importantly, inspired me to be a leader.

But more importantly, BBYO took me on a trip that changed my life, The March of the Living. This trip changed everything for me. Basically, I went to Poland during Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and walked through Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek- three of the most disgusting places I have ever seen in my life. Majdanek sticks with me the most. That's probably because Majdanek has a bowl which contains the ashes of 60,000+ Jews who were gassed and burned  by the Nazis, covered by a dome, which is of a size I could not possibly describe. This Mausoleum looked into my soul, and during the moment I stared into the ashes, I knew from that moment I couldn't be the engineer I had thought I was supposed to be going into college at the University of Cincinnati in the fall. Something in me changed. A switch clicked. I couldn't do what I was supposed to do; what everyone expected me to do. The next week we spent in Israel, the homeland. The most beautiful place I have ever seen. The land of creation. I was home. I was in love.

But, because I didn't want to disappoint my family and friends, I stuck with the engineering. For a month. I was massively unhappy. So I changed directions. I completely changed directions. My heart is not with creation of machines, it is with people: the Jewish people. With life. With the love of my life, Israel. My belonging, my role on this planet earth, is to be an advocate, a worker, and employee, of the Jewish people. And, no shit, engineering was not going to bring me there.

So I changed. Double major Judaic Studies and Organizational Leadership. This is my path. This is where I want to be, and this is where I wish to go.

And that's okay. There are two places in life you can go really (if you're privileged enough): you can either choose a degree and a job that is likely secure, or you can go after your dreams. You can find something you love, and do it too.

I still don't know where I'll be heading with Judaic Studies and Organizational Leadership. Who knows? I could go to grad school for something totally different. I could go to law school. But at least I know I'll always have the Jewish people and my Jewish identity in my heart and mind.

Ralph Ellison's nameless character in his classic novel Invisible Man is perhaps the only thing that correctly describes how I feel and why I did this:
“What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?” 
But another quote comes to mind as well:
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
I'm still trying to find who I am. But I'm a college student, so that's okay. Maybe I'll never know. But one thing I do know, is that I know more about myself now then I ever did.

One more thing...

I'm working on a project that will re-launch my consumer technology radio show with a co-host that is yet to be named. Stay tuned for more!

UPDATE: I am now a Judaic Studies, English Literature (Rhetoric & Professional Writing) double major with a minor in Business Analytics. Hope this one sticks!