Dream Vacation Destination: Patagonia, hiking in the mountains
Starbucks order: Grande black coffee with an extra shot of espresso
Current Favorite Song: Human by Jon Bellion
Last Meal on Earth: BBQ beef, BBQ chicken, BBQ turkey, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, cornbread, fruit, some sort of vegetable, and cheesey corn.
Max Gendler has always loved music. He’s always been around music.
Growing up, Max’s mother was a cantor at their temple in Papillion, Nebraska. When he was nine, he started taking guitar lessons, and it wasn’t long before he could teach himself. Now in his sophomore year of college, he knows how to play the saxophone, bass guitar, drums and piano. He also DJs parties for fun.
“So, I guess music has kinda been my calling,” Max said. “I love music to death, I don’t what I’d do without it to be honest.”
In sixth grade, Max started going to URJ Osrui summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Even after spending seven summers in the beautiful Wisconsin forest hiking, biking and rock climbing, he’ll return next summer as a counselor and song leader.
“It’s just like home, I don’t know how to explain it,” Max said. “It’s just that place where I can go and really be me and get back to what I wanna do.”
Before coming to KU, Max went to Papillion La Vista High School, where he played tennis, track, baseball and wrestled. Sports took priority over music for a bit, but he learned valuable life lessons.
“What my wrestling coach always preached was that you will learn a lot more from the weight room than you think,” Max said. “It sounds like a dumb meathead thing to say, but I’ve learned some of the biggest lessons of my life from a couple metal plates and a bar. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room for improvement.”
Although his sports career ended when college started, Max felt like KU was a better environment for him to figure out what he wanted to do in life. He started really pursuing his music career, joined Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, and took his first Architecture classes. He played guitar more often and was a part of Hillel’s Freshman Leadership Series second semester.
“When I don’t have camp, Hillel is an outlet for it. I can come plug in, play guitar and sing and song lead for people."
“I would call us a tribe. We have to stick together and it’s so important that we have a place like Hillel where we can all come and be together as one,” Max said. “I would urge everyone to go because it’s such a welcoming community. There’s no one at Hillel who’s gonna turn you away when you buzz the door.”
Through Hillel, Max has the opportunity to lead services almost every Friday night alongside his friend and fellow songleader, Ben Schenberg. Max and Ben work with Hillel’s Rabbi Neal Schuster to plan services. They even led Hillel’s Rock Chalk Shabbat service this past Friday on November 11 for over 500 people. By getting involved, Max gets to express his passion for music and be a part of Hillel’s growing community. It’s his connection to Judaism.
“When I don’t have camp, Hillel is an outlet for it. I can come plug in, play guitar and sing and song lead for people,” Max said. “And no matter what the space is, it’s always an amazing feeling song leading for people.”