The future is happening now. In Manhattan’s Union Square, typical Sukkahs get a cool, modern makeover. Shabbat in a box is being handed out at the University of Southern California. Traditions are taking on a new twist as Jewish students incorporate interesting ideas to make the holidays more exciting. Jews and Muslims are taking on a modern and mature approach by sharing the holidays with each other.
This festive holiday season was punctuated by tragedy, however, when Rutgers student Tyler Clementi took his own life after being publicly outed and bullied. Hillels at Rutgers and around the world are responding by helping to create an atmosphere of acceptance and civility in their communities.
Sukkot Celebrations Far and Wide
New York University hosted a dinner in its own Sukkah. There were 12 bizarre-looking sukkahs set up in nearby Union Square that captured the spirit for the holiday.
“Pizza in the Hut” was hosted at the University of Rhode Island. Students gathered in the Sukkot and ate stuffed foods including sushi and pizza.
Shabbat in a Box
University of Southern California students can now celebrate Shabbat in the comfort of their dorm rooms or houses. The USC Hillel has created a program called Shabbat in a Box. The box includes all the Shabbat essentials. Its purpose is to encourage students to carry on Shabbat traditions.
Texas-OU Game Scheduled on Yom Kippur 2011
The athletic department remains deaf to the Jewish students’ protests of a game on Yom Kippur. The University of Texas has scheduled a big game versus Oklahoma University on Yom Kippur next year. A game has been scheduled on Yom Kippur again in 2014 but hopefully that is enough time to reschedule.
Washington & Lee University Drawing in More Jews
Jewish Student Center at Emory Gets a New Name
The Marcus Hillel Center at Emory University is named after Home Depot co-founder Bernie and his wife Billi for their role in building the new Hillel facility.
Random Acts of Kindness Goes a Long Way
Mitzvah Day was held at the University of Hartford. Campus clubs and organizations, including Hillel joined forces to raise money for charities and bagged lunches for a homeless shelter.
“Challahgrams” were sold for $3 each at the University of Georgia Hillel. Customers received a homemade challah and their money went towards a local charity of their choice.
Military Torah is used for Simchat Torah
Elon University Hillel borrowed two facsimile Torahs from Judea Reform synagogue in nearby Durham to use in the holiday. The Torahs dated back to World War II, when the government produced them for Jewish chaplains to carry into war.
Muslim and Jewish Bonds Strengthen
The annual Sukkat Salaam was celebrated at the Harvard Hillel last week. Members of the Harvard Islamic Society joined with Hillel members in a celebration to foster interfaith understanding. It celebrates the end of Ramadan and the start of Sukkot. Students sang a song in Hebrew and Arabic, which had surprisingly similar words.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Muslim Student Association and Hillel joined forces to host a dinner celebration with apples and honey for the Jews, and dates for the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast. Both groups mingled with each other and conversed about their holidays and customs.
Exposing the Other Side of Israel
Amir Mirion of Tel Aviv is one of the 30 Israeli fellows working at colleges in the states. He will be working with students at Case Western Reserve University and Kent State University in Ohio until June. His goal is to educate Jewish American college students of life in Israel including politics, Israeli media, and more things about Israel that many people don’t know about.
Tragedy Strikes Rutgers University
Tyler Clementi, a gay first-year student at Rutgers committed suicide after his roommate outed him over the Internet. Hillel has responded to this tragedy by signing on to a statement written by Keshet, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jewish organization. The statement can be read here:
Rutgers Hillel is working to create an environment of civility on campus by participating in a campus-wide program and through the creation of a group for gay Jewish students.
Oren Speaks. No Arrests.
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren visited the campus of Northwestern University recently, holding small meetings with students and faculty members and capping the day with a public speech to 300. The dialogues were conducted with decorum and civil disagreement as students and faculty asked critical questions and Amb. Oren responded accordingly. “At no point did the discussion break down in the way that it has on some other campuses in recent years,” said Rabbi Josh Feigelson, Hillel campus rabbi and senior director for educational initiatives. Video of Amb. Oren’s public remarks is available here..
Meira Kirschbaum is a student in Washington, D.C.