As we enter into a new school year, F&M Hillel is very excited to continue providing programing, Shabbat meals, and a warm sence of community to the Jewish population on campus. Our student board is busy at work coming up with new ideas to bring into the new year.
Just as the holidays encourage personal reflection, this newsletter focuses on students reflecting on past experiences and using what they've learned to enrich this upcoming year. On the same token, we would like to thank everyone who has already contributed to F&M Hillel, as it is those donations that keep our organization running to its full capacity. If you have not yet contributed, we hope you will consider doing so in order to help us continue to provide students with a welcoming and engaging Jewish community on campus.
Ralph and Rebecca
As the new year has started, F&M Hillel has welcomed a new staff member. A recent Alumna of F&M, Rebecca Weintraub '13, has transitioned into the role of Engagement/ Jewish Life Coordinator. Here is a message from her:
"I am very excited to join the F&M Hillel team as the Engagement/ Jewish Life Coordinator. As a recent Franklin & Marshall student, class of 2013, I spent much of my time at the Klehr Center for Jewish Life, enjoying all that Hillel has to offer. Aside from Hillel, I was very active in the F&M community, both as a student in the Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies departments and a student leader. Some of my favorite accomplishements were being in the Alumni Leaders of Tomorrow Program, sitting on the Baccalaureate Planning Committee, and being the President of my sorority. I love talking about my time at Franklin & Marshall, and am open to any and all questions! As far as my role at Hillel goes, I have the pleasure of working closely with our students, and plan and recruit for our Alternative Spring Break programs and Birthright trips."
This past summer, Franklin & Marshall was able to send 11 students on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. They spent 10 days traveling around the country, learning about current issues, Judaism, and Israel as a nation. We are currently closing out another round of recruitment to send students on a Winter 2013-2014 trip. We cannot wait for more students to experience this amazing opprotunity! Below are quotes from the most recent Birthright Alumni about their experience in Israel
“Birthright was the most incredible experience for me in every way. The connections I made with Israel and all of the amazing people I met over those 10 days far surpassed my expectations. Taglit and Hillel made it such a memorable, rewarding, and enriching trip that I know I will remember it for the rest of my life.” -Samantha Pravder ‘13
“Birthright was hands down some of the best 10 days of my life. I went into the trip thinking that I'd have lots of fun on a free trip to Israel with some of my best F&M friends (which I did), but I came out of it with much more. I didn't realize quite what Israel would mean to me until I was there, and the trip definitely helped me to figure out and affirm my own personal Jewish identity in a way I never could have expected.” - Jason Boyask ‘16
"I never imagined that going back to Israel would be a different or better-rewarding experience after having already visited once before, but Birthright was such an incredible journey that I wish I could relive it in exactly the same manner I did in May. It was ten of the best days I've ever experienced- the price is right, the people are amazing, the scenery is undeniably one-in-a-million, and the memories are everlasting. Absolutely zero regrets!" - Sofy Maxman '16
Continuing our Jewish Engagement Fellow (JEF) Program, we were lucky enough to hire four new student Interns. As part of their training, these Interns traveled to St. Louis to meet and learn with fellow Interns from across the country. Below is how Sami Tucker '14 remembers her experience at the Hillel Institute.
"As a Jewish Engagement Fellow (JEF), I am primarily responsible for reaching out and engaging with Jewish students here at Franklin & Marshall College. “Engaging” with students can take place in many forms, such as going on a coffee date, chatting over a meal, or hanging out at a Hillel event. JEFs serve as an excellent resource for the Franklin & Marshall community, as we are here to help students get more involved in Jewish life, whatever that may mean for them.
Over the summer, all of the students selected attended the Hillel Institute, held at the University of Washington in St. Louis. We participated in 4-days of rigorous workshops designed to help us prepare for the type of work we would have to complete back on our own campuses. By participating in numerous role-play activities, group discussions, and informal conversations with other students at the Institute, we developed the skills necessary to engage with others. These skills will not only serve us well within the context of this Internship, but will play a pivotal role in building future relationships with others.
On a more personal level, my experiences at the Hillel Institute allowed me to appreciate what it means to be apart of a Jewish community, both globally as well as here at Franklin & Marshall College. Some of my most memorable experiences involved participating in Shabbat services, Shabbat dinner, as well as the Havdalah celebrations. The energy and excitement that each individual brought to these events helped remind me of why I am proud to be involved in Hillel. Hillel is an amazing organization that provides a great way for Jewish students to connect with one another. Through this experience, I was able to build strong friendships with people I had only known for a few short days.
As I continue my work as a Jewish Engagement Fellow, I look forward to building relationships with more students on campus. By continuing to reach out and having personal conversations with uninvolved students, I hope to help them get excited about exploring all of the opportunities Hillel has to offer."
This school year started with a holiday whirlwind. For many students, it was a time to step back from their already chaotic schedules to celebrate with their F&M Hillel Family. Students who were unable return home for the holidays joined us for both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur meals. As always, we coordinated shuttles to take students to the local synagogue of their choice for services. Moving into Sukkot, students helped us build our Sukkahs on campus. For the first time, we had the help of the Intro to Judiasm class join us in building the Sukkah on Hartman Green.
The following is a D'var given by our Religious Chair, Gaby Joseph '16, reflecting on the ups and downs of the holiday season.
"We are half way through this holiday season. We’ve gone on the introspective journey of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur during which we’ve thought about the ups and downs of our past year and how we can improve ourselves for the next. Coming up next we have Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah- a time to rejoice over the giving of the Torah and generally celebrate starting over fresh. But right now we are in the midst of Sukkot. Sukkot is a very unique holiday because unlike the rest, most of the Mitzvot that we are commanded to do are meant to be done on our home turf and not necessarily in synagogue. We are commanded to build a Sukkah in our yard, in our driveway, or on our balconies. No matter where we put it, the Sukkah is meant to be a temporary structure for us to do any of our daily activities in including meals, snacks, or even sleep. On this holiday, even those of us that live in luxury build Sukkot and eat our meals in a hut that we have made intentionally fragile. In this way Sukkot is meant to humble us. And to remind us of the impermanence of life and of the luxuries that we have. This is something that we, as college students, tend to forget in the midst of our busy schedules.
Another commandment that is made forSsukkot is the commandment to invite guests into our Sukkah. We are meant to invite those that we care a lot about as well as guests whom we do not know very well but whom we would like to get to know. Rabbi David Wolfe- Blank, of blessed memory, stated that “a Sukkah is like a filter...” We must filter in the individuals that are important to us, and filter out any negativity that might have lingered with us from last year. This is a time for us to appreciate the incredible community that surrounds and supports us and to welcome new friends into it. Sukkot allows us to stop for a minute during our busy lives to appreciate the simple things in life and to appreciate the people that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.
We are embarking on yet another year of high stress, high fun, and lots of inevitable ups and downs. During the next week, let’s consider the question: Who would I invite into my Sukkah? Let’s consider all the things that make us happy and all the people that support us and love us in our community as well as the people that we might be able to expand our community to include. Those are the people whom we will invite to our Sukkah, and those are the people whom we will turn to in our year to come."