As a Hillel director for the last seven years, I have come to love this time of year. Graduation is the moment to celebrate not just academic learning, but the personal growth and discovery students experience during their university years.
Now entering its 13th year, Taglit-Birthright Israel’s goal is to strengthen the Jewish identity of its participants and their connection to Israel. Yet the popular program also has provided a platform for untold numbers of young singles to form lasting, loving partnerships.
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association has elected an openly gay rabbi to lead the national rabbinic organization.
When author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was recently asked if he feared future generations might forget the Holocaust once the last surviving witnesses had perished, he answered that he had quelled his anxiety over this problem with a simple dictum: “To listen to a witness,” he said, “is to become one.”
We approached the entrance to the Kotel Plaza a little before 7 a.m. on Rosh Hodesh Tevet. In my bag was my tallit, the beautiful purple-and-blue one that was hand woven as a gift from the students and faculty at USC more than 20 years ago, when I completed my time there as the Hillel rabbi.
The Buffalo Board of Rabbis condemned the involvement in High Holidays services at the University of Buffalo Hillel of a rabbi who was expelled from the Rabbinical Assembly over ethics violations. Rabbi A. Charles Shalman ran this year's High Holidays services at the Hillel on Buffalo's North Campus in Amherst, N.Y.
After seven years as the chief executive at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Wayne Firestone will be stepping down from his post in June 2013.
Meet 22-year-old Jeremy Moskowitz, the poster child for what Hillel hopes will be a revolution in campus Jewish life. The catch: He didn’t spend much time at Hillel during his four years at Duke University.
Feb. 3 was a historic day for the University of California and its Hillels. On that day, UC President Mark Yudof met with all of the UC Hillel directors in his office in Oakland to discuss our observations regarding how Israel is faring on campus...
This week I write to you from Jerusalem, inspired by the headline story from this past Tuesday ‘s Ha’aretz. On the first morning of my trip, here is the headline I woke up to: “New Orthodox Rabbinical Group Puts Israeli Women at Its Head – Hopes to Counter Creeping Religious Extremism.” The name of this new organization? Beit Hillel – an appropriate name for an organization that seeks to represent the moderate voice in Judaism.
What defines “Jewish” theater? David Chack, a playwright and president of the Association for Jewish Theatre, promises that question will be among the subjects examined at the association’s upcoming conference, Feb. 5-8 at the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at Hillel at UCLA.
Hillel leaders at the University of California, Berkeley, are urging the Jewish Student Union on campus to reconsider its rejection of J Street’s campus affiliate.
Call it the tent movement.
Men’s and women’s teams from 20 colleges will compete at the University of Maryland in the inaugural National Hillel Basketball Tournament. Twenty-five men’s teams and seven women’s squads will be participating in the tournament this weekend, with the women's final at 3:15 p.m. Sunday and the men's final 30 minutes later.
The Brandeis University Hillel has rejected a second membership bid by the controversial Jewish student group Jewish Voice for Peace. Some 1,000 Brandeis students, nearly a third of the student body at the suburban Boston university, signed a petition circulated by JVP asking the Brandeis Hillel to reconsider its decision earlier this month not to admit JVP as a partner organization.
Hillel may be the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, but that doesn’t mean every Jewish student group is welcome. Last week, Brandeis University’s Hillel voted not to accept the membership bid of the local campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that has been criticized for its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel and was listed by the Anti-Defamation League last October as among the top 10 anti-Israel groups in the United States.
The Brandeis University Hillel voted to reject Jewish Voice for Peace as a member group. Andrea Wexler, student president of the Hillel chapter at the suburban Boston school, explained in a letter to Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish organization that champions Palestinian rights, that Tuesday's vote followed the international guidelines of the student organization.
Last April, Keri Copans, Hillel's campus director at the University of California, San Diego, learned that a measure was about to come before her student government asking the university to divest from companies that do business with "occupying" powers.
Hillel 818 held its ninth annual dinner celebration at Valley Beth Shalom on Jan. 28, honoring professors Donald Bleich, Zev Garber and Rita R. Werner with Distinguished Educator Awards. The dinner centerpieces, filled with needed school supplies, were donated to Community Build, an organization that helps at-risk youth. Hillel 818 represents more than 8,000 Jewish students at Pierce and Los Angeles Valley colleges and CSUN.
Spending spring break is a tradition of sorts for college students, but rather than partying, 57 Hillel members from seven campuses headed to Miami last week to volunteer at a youth center in the downtrodden Overtown district.
Instead of swimming and sunning on the beach or getting soused in bars, they spent a week engaged in community service projects working with underprivileged communities.
The Overtown Youth center, built by former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, is located downtown in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. The 20-block area, which was founded as a segregated, black neighborhood because of Jim Crow laws, once was the center of black culture in Miami. Now it is overridden with drugs and has the highest rate of violent crimes rate in the southern Florida city.
Nearly 160,000 young Jews from North America have taken part in Taglit-Birthright Israel, a 10-day free Israel trip aimed at revving up their Jewish identities.
Julian Sandler, chairman of the Hillel: Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Board of Directors, has died.
More than rabbi and rebbetzin, they serve as a model married couple for hundreds of Jewish students.
The new president of the University of California keeps a kosher home, lectures on Maimonides for intellectual stimulation and is an unabashed Israel supporter.
Right there, in the shadow of the ever-popular "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," another mitzvah quietly sits: "Thou shall surely rebuke thy friend." And while this may seem rude or intrusive, the Torah regards the obligation of mutual rebuke as the engine of communal righteousness.
letters to the jewish journal
Hillel centers on university campuses were viewed not long ago as little more than the local Jewish hangout, a place where students could come for kosher meals or socialize with other Jews. But in a move that Hillel leaders say has been forced upon them by this generation's altered social landscape, the organization is throwing open its doors to everyone, designing programs that appeal to Jews and non-Jews and hyping its contribution to university -- not only Jewish -- life.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said last week that troops and police could be deployed as early as this week for a mass-removal of outposts erected in the West Bank without state approval. He indicated that the operation could be timed to coincide with President Bush's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority .
Getting by on prepackaged kosher sandwiches or salads is now a thing of the past for Jewish students at UCLA. For the first time, UCLA is offering hot kosher dinners Mondays through Thursdays as part of the meal plan for dorm residents. Apart from the plan, students can buy lunches and receive free dinner on Friday nights at UCLA Hillel's The Shack (Students Hungry and Craving Kosher).
Kiril Alexandrovich's Cafe Hillel, which was expected to open last week, is the first effort in Odessa at co-branding undertaken by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. The partnership aims to transform Jewish youth organizing in the former Soviet Union, leaving behind the club model and heading out into the cities, where young Jews work and play.
Many people took it upon themselves to raise vast sums of money for Israel during the conflict with Lebanon this summer, but how many were still in elementary school?
In 1969, a group of college students staged a protest at the premiere gathering of the organized Jewish community, demanding more say and more attention to issues that mattered to them. The demonstrations and vocal disruptions at the Boston General Assembly lead to the formation of the North American Jewish Students Appeal, which was funded by federations until 1995.
Ever since then, students have been a part of the GA, which this year is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Nov. 12-15.
Say you're a few years out of college, living with friends and working in a low-paying job for some do-good organization. You don't go to synagogue, but you miss the camaraderie of your college Hillel, and you like to invite people over for Shabbat meals.
Imagine if someone was willing to pay you to keep doing it?
"I have been told not to touch the Torah and to go back to my own religion" she relayed to me matter-of-factly.
"Wasn't there anyone you could confide in?" I asked.
"I could confide in some more than others, but when it came down to it, no one really cared whether I converted or not."
"It's like a temple," the painter says of his artist's studio.
A lonely temple, that is.
"I'm the rabbi and congregation all in one," he says with a laugh.
"We need for America to speak out and really do something," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of the many high-powered guests in attendance. "Where to start, of course, is in the faith community."
The last few months have seen a flood of studies of Gen-Y Jews -- all trying to map their sense of Jewish identity, affiliation patterns, needs, hopes, beliefs and behaviors.
Parents don't understand why 300 young Jews packed the Long Beach Alpert JCC for the Jewlicious sequel on Feb. 17. We came for food and song, complete with banging on the tables and exuberant dancing wherever there was room. At the Sunday night concert, "Jewbilation," you could see the look of shock on the older generation's faces as we jammed to Hebrew heavy-metal songs by the Maccabees. This was not your mom's "Oseh Shalom."
"The primary purpose is to serve the needs of the Orthodox population," says Rabbi Ilan Haber, the program's national director, who works out of Hillel headquarters in Washington. "It's not an outreach program, it's an in-reach to Orthodox students."
In addition to Hillel, other Jewish groups were active in Mississippi relief work. Shortly after Katrina struck, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement dispatched a group of emissaries to Biloxi to assist with emergency search-and-rescue efforts.
"Makor/Source" marks the first time that the Hillels of the two universities have collaborated on an exhibition. Roughly 20 local artists submitted works to the show, including collages, paintings and photographs.
The center is also the focus of criticism from some of its would-be occupants, who say that they haven't been kept in the loop about planning the center from the beginning, that its opening has been delayed and that they are unsure about when they will be able to move in.
7 Days in the Arts
It was in the summer of 2004 that Hillel began work on a five-year plan to attract the two-thirds of Jewish college students who say they don't go to Hillel activities. That troubling statistic has been one of the most talked-about findings from the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS).
Davi Cheng had some trepidation when she went to Hillel for the first time. She tried to feel comfortable, but she couldn't understand the language of the services and the liturgical rituals were confusing.
Then she spied something unfamiliar on a bookshelf that made her feel right at home: a shofar.
In its 10 years of operating in the former Soviet Union, Hillel has reached thousands of Jewish students.
Now it's trying to reach more.
The Israel programs aim to imbue students with the knowledge and emotion only first-hand experience in Israel can provide, organizers said. The goal is for students to return to campus with personal stories and new energy to help them promote Israel effectively and get others involved in the cause.
The UCLA Hillel rabbi who allegedly lost his temper and kicked a freelance journalist who called him a derogatory name could be required to undergo anger management training, counseling or worse for his reported actions.
On Dec. 1, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller and Rachel Neuwirth will meet separately with a city attorney hearing officer in Los Angeles to try to sort through the facts of his reported physical assault on her. Afterward, the hearing officer will mete out the appropriate punishment to Seidler-Feller, if merited, said Eric Moses, the city attorney's director of public relations. It is possible the hearing officer could recommend that criminal charges be brought against Seidler-Feller.
Two suicide bombings struck the Jewish State Tuesday, killing at least 15 victims and wounding dozens. The two attacks left the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan in tatters and marked a new surge of deadly violence in the nearly 3-year-old intifada.
For much of his life, Lawrence Mudgett didn't need Judaism. He had football. But when the 6-foot-6, 250-pound sophomore was declared ineligible for the NCAA at the beginning of the school year, he began searching for another niche.
As a participant on Birthright Israel's 2002-2003 winter programs, Mudgett found what he was looking for.
"Going to Israel changed me. It's opened up so many doors," said the UCSB sophomore. "Just being part of the Jewish community and being involved in Hillel helps fill the void of not being on a team and not having that camaraderie."
Fans of the legendary first seasons of "Saturday Night Live" remember Laraine Newman sashaying with Gilda Radner in the hilarious faux commercial for "Jewess Jeans." They recall her Barbra Streisand impression and her angry beatnik character reciting bad poetry in nasal Brooklynese. But Newman, 50, will reveal one of her more serious roles when she's honored at Hillel at Pierce & Valley Colleges' Comedy Nite 2003 on Feb. 1: her involvement with the Jewish community. The granddaughter of an Arizona Jewish cattle rancher, Newman will describe how she grew up so assimilated that "all my Jewish friends went to Hess Kramer but I was shlepped off to Camp Trinity."
The announcement that Richard Joel has been named as president of Yeshiva University (YU) is an important and salutary development in American Jewish life. Joel is a gifted leader, able spokesman and prolific fundraiser. He has been able to establish the national Hillel organization which he heads as a "big tent" for American Jews -- one that embraces unaffiliated and under-affiliated Jews at a vital stage in their lives (college), while also serving the most committed Jews who enter its buildings to eat, study, pray and socialize with other Jews.
College can be a time for Jewish students to further explore their Judaism -- religiously, socially and politically. The following is a compilation of resources available to Jewish students and a summary of what these groups are doing on campus.
Last year, when philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman decided to give the gift of Israel to thousands of young Jews, skeptics wondered whether there would be any takers.