NAME: Cameron Segal, 21
HEBREW NAME: Aria Lev Yidul
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: New London, Conn.
SCHOOLS: Pingree School ’16, Connecticut College ’20
FAVORITE FOOD: Chicken pot pie
FAVORITE MUSIC: John Mayer, Matisyahu, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson
FAVORITE BOOK: “The Keeper” and “The Great Gatsby”
FAVORITE MOVIE: “Miracle on Ice”
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “The Office”
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS: Favorite place I’ve been to is Israel; place I’d like to go is Iceland.
FAVORITE JEWISH PEOPLE NOT IN YOUR FAMILY: Omri Casspi (the Israeli basketball player who has played 10 years in the NBA).
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: Hanukkah
WHAT WAS YOUR JEWISH BACKGROUND GROWING UP?
I was raised Conservative. We went to Chabad of the North Shore my whole life and celebrated all the holidays, and all that good stuff, and I was bar mitzvahed and I have three brothers who were bar mitzvahed, too. After my bar mitzvah – kind of a common thing for a lot of Jewish kids – we kind of started slacking and it wasn’t really as important to us.
I recently went on Birthright and it definitely changed everything. It was absolutely amazing. I met so many friends – I didn’t realize how diverse Jewish people were, but I met Indian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Asian Jews … it was really cool. Ever since then – because my dad does tefillin and davens every morning and I watched him doing that growing up – so ever since I came back from Birthright in January, I’ve been doing tefillin and listening to the Torah portion each morning and going to the Hillel House at my school.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE HOCKEY PROGRAM YOU STARTED, “LEARN TO SKATE?”
I’ve been playing hockey since second grade. Hockey is a really white sport and there’s a lot of reasons for that. The few African-American players who are in the NHL right now – they’re not always received that well. There was an event where the fans started chanting “basketball” at Devante Smith-Pelly of the Washington Capitals, and I just thought that was the worst thing ever.
So I’m in a pathways program at my school, which is kind of like a major, and it allows you to work on an animating question that you think is really interesting, and try to do something to help the cause. I wanted to show that hockey and skating are for everybody. We work with students in grades 6 through 8 at a school in New London, and none of them have played hockey before. I worked it out with the rink manager to get the ice time and skates for free. We do 10 weeks – nine sessions from the fall to the spring with about 30 students, and for our last session we did a big banquet. They started out not knowing how to skate, and now we play capture the flag, red light/green light – they’re not able to play hockey yet, but they skate backwards, they’re spinning – they definitely improved a ton from when we got on the ice.
HOW HAS THIS PROJECT AFFECTED YOU?
I spent a lot of time working on it, and just seeing it all play out – putting in that work really makes a difference to those kids makes it worth it – seeing everyone smiling, and having a good time. It’s been great to see my big project come to life.
DID YOUR JEWISH IDENTITY MOTIVATE THIS PROJECT?
I think definitely, because from the time I was little my parents talked about tikkun olam – repair the world – and always thinking about what we can do to help make the world a better place and do something good for other people, and I think that definitely helped power the project.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE?
This summer I’m going to be working at Loomis Chaffee – which is a boarding school in Connecticut – and hopefully after I graduate I’ll be able to work at a boarding school, because I work in residential life now – I’m the head resident assistant – I hope to be a teacher, a coach in hockey, soccer, and baseball, and also be a dorm dad.