A Day in the Life of Rabbi B

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/215874382″>A Day in the Life of Rabbi B</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user43506384″>Alison Zywicki</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Rabbi Becca Walker (aka “Rabbi B”) is the Senior Jewish Educator for Hillel at MSU and Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM). Rabbi B has been an official Rabbi for about a year or so, after 9 years of school from undergrad to rabbinical. Being a member of the conservative movement there can be challenges as a woman rabbi, since only recently the movement opened up the idea of having them. The Jewish Conservative Movement is apart of the three Western “movements” or divisions of Judaism, Reformed, Conservative, and Orthodox. So in understanding this, Rabbi B follows an authentic Jewish lifestyle from keeping Kosher to not traveling or using electricity on Shabbat. This does not make her boring for Rabbi B is one of a kind.

She relates extremely well to collegiate students, who she works with on a day to day basis. As the Senior Jewish Educator, Rabbi B is there to help students learn about Judaism (religiously and culturally), interfaith, theology and most importantly showing that being Jewish is part of life. She leads Shabbat services every week and she leads the high holiday services as well for the Jewish community. In addition, Rabbi B works with the Hillel staff on planning events from interfaith dinners to Sparty’s Bar-Mitzvah Party, that they hold twice a year. She also brings a creative side to Jewish learning with her music videos relating to holidays and events and crafts, such as your Jewish glasses.

This is Rabbi B’s first year working with Hillel at MSU and HCAM and we cannot wait to see moe amazing things from her. Watch her video profile above to learn more.

Fighting Antisemitism on CMU’s Campus

Fighting Antisemitism on CMU’s Campus from Alison Zywicki on Vimeo.

In February, an Antisemtic valentine made at party  hosted by  the College Republicans was passed out in Ansapch Hall. This valentine stated “My love burns for you like 6,000 Jews” and in addition had a cutout if Hilter placed on it. A photo of this valentine was posted to Facebook immediately afterwards and spread through social media like wildfire. The posts caught the attention of various News organizations and reached all the way to the Israeli Press. In addition, the Jewish student organization at CMU, Hillel, was informed and they contacted the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity to combat the valentine and to hold a formal inquiry. As a result it was learned that the valentine did not come from a registered CMU student, CMU’s  President Ross issued an email to the campus apologizing for the valentine, and the College Republicans issued an apology via Facebook.

The campus came together a day later to hold a rally and peaceful march against hate speech on campus. Members from Hillel, Hadley Platek and Steven Keene both shared their experiences with Antisemitism and many other community members spoke up about their experiences involving hate speech. The OCRIE office also held two town halls one on Faith and the other on Free Speech to help educate the campus student body.

Watch the video to learn more.

Women of CMU 11. Mariam Saad

Senior and international student, Mariam Saad, poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan Universit, Saturday, March 25, 2017.”An empowered woman is a woman who knows what she wants and works hard to get it without letting any obstacles stand in her face. An empowered woman is a woman who has equal rights with any man and is capable of making a difference and change around her, and is doing so…empowerment is not exclusive for men or women, it is matter of character, a trait of hard working, of determination, of faith in yourself and self confidence,” states Mariam. 


Say hello to our 11th #WomenofCMU, Mariam Saad. Mariam is a member and leader in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) here at Central Michigan University. I have had the honor of knowing Mariam for two years and she is someone who always brightens my day and has inspired me so much. MSA brings Muslim students together in a warm environment. They build connections and break barriers between students. They also raise awareness about Islam and try to get rid of some of the stereotypes and misconceptions around their faith.

“MSA was a home for me when I first came here. I didn’t know anyone and they welcomed me. I had a place to go, I had common ground between them, and I felt comfortable. At the same time it helped me build a relationship with so many people on the basis of raising awareness and spreading knowledge about Islam, which is something that I love,” Mariam explains.

MSA is an amazing organization on campus and they do such wonderful, inspiring and impactful things for CMU students. One of these was leading and organizing the march on campus this past Jan/Feb against the “Muslim Ban” that was being passed. This was such an emotional time because they had the support of so many people on campus. I know when I was there I saw tears in my friends eyes and I had to give her a hug and let her know that I will always have her back. Mariam lead chants and motivated the crowd through the cold. I was in awe of all that she was accomplishing and all that MSA was doing, it was beautiful.

“Organizing the march was a huge things and we didn’t actually expect it to have this outcome and turn out, but it turned out beautifully. We were working on it with our heart and souls, it touched each one of us personally. When we were working on it we tried to reach out to as much people as we know and more and more. During the march we were too emotional, too happy, too proud, and connected to everyone around us. It was amazing,” states Mariam.

Mariam is an international student from Lebanon. She is studying speech therapy and has great aspirations to do such amazing things with people. She graduates and leave the US this spring and I am so saddened that CMU will be absent of this amazing force of a woman.

“Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of beauty. I guess it is being misrepresented and people are seeing it in a very not realistic image…There are a lot of Muslim women who are not wearing a hijab, for me I am wearing a hijab. So, I am pretty clear what my religion is. The first thing they (people) see me wearing a hijab is that I am oppressed, I don’t have a choice, I am not that educated, I might be rolled by men, and all of these things, but it is not true. I am actually a person who is very educated, very independent, who works hard to get to her dreams…It is something that people get to know after they meet me,” Mariam explains.

Mariam continues to educate and change the way people think, little by little. She has made such a huge impact in my life and I know so many others, from MSA and around campus. I think Mariam is everything you want to see in an empowered woman. She is independent, proud, strong, and she doesn’t let anything stop her. I admire her so much for that.

“It is important for women to know that whatever is politically happening, that doesn’t mean they can change the way that they look at themselves or who they truly are, because they are powerful before that and will stay the same way after that. They need to know that they have enough power to actually make a difference and make a change of what people think about them. Maybe this political issue that is happening will help them (women) know the value that they have for themselves more, because no one would fight something they are not afraid of. For them to fight women, it means that they are afraid of them and this means that they (women) are really powerful. They (women) should know that the poor they have in a society is way beyond what they think they do…There are so many elements of society that wouldn’t on without women,” Mariam informs.

Thank you Mariam for everything you do for this campus, for MSA, and for women all around. You are an amazing soul and I am so proud to know you. Continue to break barriers and shut down stereotypes. I cannot wait to see all the great things you accomplish later in life. Thank you for leaving your stamp on this campus.

Life of an Injured Gymnast

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/209675376″>Life of an Injured Gymnast</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user43506384″>Alison Zywicki</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Samantha (Sami) Lewis is a Central Michigan freshman gymnast from San Antonio, Texas. Lewis got injured around November and originally thought that it was just a muscle injury. So, Lewis continued to practice in the rigorous and intense training for the collegiate sport. Around January, Lewis started to experience severe semi-paralysis an ticking in her legs. It hurt to walk and there were days when you physically could not move. There were fears that she might never be able to compete, which is huge for a collegiate gymnast in her freshman year. After an MRI and multiple x-rays it was concluded that Lewis has, basically, two vertebrae connecting to her bones in her back snapped off, thus putting her out for 8-months and forcing her to not compete in the 2016-2017 MAC season. CMU is one of the top MAC schools for gymnastics and Lewis began to think that her freshman year was over.

“Not competing has been hard, especially as a freshman. Like you come from a club gym where every meet you compete no matter what you wanted to do or you didn’t have to fight for a line up spot. It was just, if you were there at practice, you could compete, that is just how it was. So, I guess it was a really big let down knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to compete so early in my freshman year…I am very hopeful for next year…The hardest part was just facing the fact that I was not going to ever put on the maroon and gold leo for my entire freshman year,” Lewis explained.

For a gymnast competition is everything. When you train all-year-round, it is hard to recognize when an injury can be pushed through or if it is something serious. Lewis continues to go through physical therapy and work her way up to being close to 100% again for the next season, while being the biggest cheerleader in the stands for her team. This is not uncommon for gymnasts to get injured or be out for the season, a majority of their team is struggling with injuries and Lewis was willing to share what the life is like for an injured gymnast in the video above.


Finding Their Story With Coffee – Feature of Narrativality Roasters/Coffee Room

Finding Their Story With Coffee from Alison Zywicki on Vimeo.


The Coffee Room and Narrativality Coffee Roasters has been around for about a year and a half, starting in August of 2015. Since then they have opened their doors to the community and encouraged clients to find their story. Their slogan is “Coffee has a story. Find your story,” based on the fact that coffee has as a story about how it is processed and it is important to share that history.

Christie Cromar is the co-owner with her husband Aaron. Together with their love of coffee brought the “third-wave coffee roasters movement”, people who value the story and authenticity of coffee, to Mount Pleasant.

Their website states that “coffee has a story with a beginning, middle, and end. We reclaim that story by honoring our connection with the farmers that grow our coffee, and by caring deeply about every aspect of the story from seed to cup.”

“Coffee are these beans that just somehow just work their way into everybody’s lives,” barista Alyssa Morley explains.

There is so much more to a coffee shop then the coffee, there is the people and the story behind it. The video about talks about the basis of the Coffee Room’s ideology and what their take on coffee’s story is, highlighting this business and the owners that are the heart of it.

Video Shootout JRN 423

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/203490401″>Welcome To Res Life-Video Shootout</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user59466187″>Alison Zywicki</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

In class on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, we did what our professor calls a Video Shootout. We have 3 hours to produce/film and edit a 30 second to a minute video on a topic we pulled out of a hat just seconds before. I felt SOOO lucky because I pulled out “Dorm Life” and I am an RA on campus. I was like this is amazing. I was not allowed to use my own hall, so I called other RAs that I knew and had them introduce me to a resident that would be willing to be interviewed and filmed for my timed project. I got some great footage and great audio bites. I was really pleased with how I did on this project since we had not preparation before hand. I totally learned how to swim from this.

My biggest issue was my editing process. I did not have a hard-drive, only a flash-drive so it made editing a little difficult and slower. Also, after I saved everything correctly and exported my file at the right size when I uploaded it to Vimeo it has a really bad quality to it, so before next Wednesday, I will relook at my file and try to upload a new video. This is a real issue that can occur and the best advice I can give is do not panic, just make sure all you saved an Adobe premiere project file so you can go back and edit and re-export the file.

Enjoy my very first video.