Adaya in the Spotlight: Law, Gap Year in Toronto and Chabad


Adaya Mogendorff (21) grew up in the Amstelveen area and is currently in her third year studying Law and second year studying Tax Law at Leiden University. 

What prompted you to begin studying Law? Was it a dream profession you had from a young age?

The idea began in high school because I needed to do an internship based on a subject or field that I liked so I chose Law and did my internship at a Law firm with Hamburger Advocaten and she really involved me and valued my opinion. This internship solidified my motivation to become a lawyer and prompted me to write my end-of-year paper on Life Sentences and what effect this can have on your brain and potential integration into society.

After that I thought “this is really my thing” and now I’m in my third year of law school and I work for two law firms! I have a while before I become an Attorney at Law but I’m on my way. 

What was your experience growing up in a “Jewish Bubble” in Amstelveen?

Growing up in Amstelveen/Amsterdam was nice and I enjoyed how entrenched I was in the Jewish community. I was a part of Tikwatenoe and I got to meet people from all over the Netherlands and expand my friendship circle in the process. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up working as a Madricha (a guide) when I got older.

At home my family was fairly religious, or somewhat in the middle as I’d like to put it, we kept Kosher, and celebrated Shabbat and the Chagim. My father is rather active in the Jewish community as a Gabbe and is a member of the organization committee of the synagogue.

During middle and high school, I went to Jewish Schools, Rosh Pina and Maimonides. Rosh Pina was quite a large school but in high school, at Maimonides, I did VWO and had a very small class of seven people and although it was small I enjoyed it a lot because we had great connections with our teachers. I even had a class that resembled private tutoring because I was the only one in it! On the other hand, I felt like I was always with the same people, which I loved, but it was important for me to meet non-Jewish people and break out of this so-called bubble of Jewish life.

During middle and high school, I joined a contemporary dance club which I was a part of for ten years which led me to meet all kinds of interesting people. 

Arts and Crafts at Tikwatenoe where I was a Madricha

I believe it is very important to have cross-cultural conversations and communicate with people from different cultures to try to accept and appreciate a different line of thinking. During my time working at the Corendon Village Hotel, I became friends with a fairly religious Muslim girl who wanted to visit a synagogue so I took her to the Portuguese Synagogue. I told her after that I wanted to go to a Mosque, and we each had a great time. Cultural differences shouldn’t stop people from becoming friends and sometimes when people stay in their bubble it stops progressive thinking from happening.  

“Cultural differences shouldn’t stop people from becoming friends and sometimes when people stay in their bubble it stops progressive thinking from happening. “

You mentioned you had some time abroad, how was that experience?

Amazing! I took a gap year in Toronto Canada and did volunteer work at an organisation called Chai Lifeline, a Jewish agency that helps parents who have very sick children with babysitting. Some of these young children had terminal illnesses so it was difficult for their parents to have a second for themselves, so this organisation allowed them to have a break. For example, I babysat a five-year-old girl who had cancer, and the parents were very appreciative of this as they had an intensive schedule in their day-to-day life. 

 Friends from exchange in Toronto       
Ice Hockey game in Toronto 

Furthermore, I took a course at an International School to improve my English and I got to meet people from all over the world, which was a highlight of my time abroad. There were people from every corner of the world and I got to experience different cultures in a way I haven’t before. I got lucky because the month I returned was the beginning of COVID, March 2020, so it did not overlap with my gap year, but I came back to the beginning of lockdown. However, I worked in the Netherlands for six months in the restaurant of a hotel for the remaining time before I began university.

Toronto in the winter

Did this experience lead you to want to potentially continue to live or study abroad in the future?

Although I enjoyed my time living in Toronto it made me realise how well regulated the Netherlands is in terms of health care, quality of life and a bunch of other factors. I do see myself travelling in the future but I love living where my family is, however, potentially I’d like to retire somewhere in Israel. However, it is quite tricky for me because I study Dutch Law which means I can eventually only work in the Netherlands unless I learn another country’s Law, so Holland it is for now. 

You mentioned this “Jewish Bubble”. How did this differ from your time in university?

I think all Jewish people know the feeling of meeting someone Jewish and having that instant connection with them that you can’t explain. I love this connection, but I also think it is important to spread your wings and experience more than a small circle. I’ve thankfully never had a negative experience expressing that I’m Jewish to non-Jewish people, I wear a Magen David ring and a necklace with Chai on it. University for me is just a different atmosphere if I were to compare it to high school, but different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. 

Although I knew about Chabad on Campus before university, because of my babysitting company @babysitamsterdam on Instagram and my sister who was active for a year, I went to some events during university. This is where I got to meet many new people who I had an instant connection with! What I like most is that if I’m anywhere in the world, on vacation or on an exchange, there will be a Chabad there and a community ready to welcome me. 

Want to learn more about our Chabad on Campus community? Have a look at our other Spotlights!


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