Rachel Trout’s Jewish Journey led her to a leadership position on the Board of Olami Denver Experience – one in which she helps to create and maintain a strong Jewish community of like-minded young professionals in Denver.
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, Rachel was raised Jewish, but in her words, “was very, very not observant growing up. My parents raised us as Jewish, with a goal of reaching my Bat Mitzvah, but after that, they kind of let us decide where we wanted to take it. We did holidays, but barely did a Passover Seder, and it was very laid back.”
It wasn’t until Rachel got a bit older and started being faced with antisemitism that her identity strengthened. “I faced a lot of antisemitism growing up. A lot of it. I was tired of being made fun of for being Jewish, and that actually made me want to be more Jewishly observant, which I guess is better than the alternative.”
So Trout’s journey led her to BBYO Ranch Camp and other activities where community and Judaism went hand in hand. In fact, it was Rachel that pushed her parents to be more observant, making sure candles were lit and holidays were observed. “It was like I was the only practicing Jew in my family, and I would keep pushing my family to keep the Judaism alive. I’d say we have to light the Hanukkah candles and my mom would be like, ‘oh yes, we should do that.’”
But it was community in which Rachel felt safest to explore her Jewish identity, “I felt really safe and comfortable growing up, going to summer camp. It was just the supportive community that I needed in my life… It wasn’t until probably college that I decided to learn more about religious studies and the Torah. In the past I would have described myself as more ‘socially Jewish’ but as I’ve grown up, the religion has become more important to me. Ultimately, though, it’s the idea of having a community where I feel safe and welcome.”
Today, Rachel is applying to medical schools, studying to become a surgeon and working as an EMT with plans to help women navigate health issues, whatever that may look like for them. However, no matter where her education and career may take her, she knows that a strong Jewish community will be important to her. “It’s very important to me to live at least near a Jewish community, to have opportunities and to be involved in the community. I think continuing to seek that out will be a big part of my life. Depending on where I end up, I might just have to look a little harder to find it.”
And if any new Young Professionals are considering becoming involved in the Olami Denver Experience, Rachel offers these words of wisdom, “Take the time to learn at a pace you’re comfortable with. Get what you need from it and don’t feel like you have to impress anyone. Everyone has their own journey, and as long as you find a way to go at a pace that is comfortable for you, it will be very meaningful.”