Using our Winter Break to our advantage, Hillel took some time to look back and reflect as an organization on our programs and initiatives. As with any successful organization, Hillel sought feedback from our students as to what programs were working for them, and what they would like to change. Keeping these ideas in mind, Hillel's new student executive board met to create a plan of action. This newsletter reflects on some of our lasting impacts, as well as our desire to keep our programing fresh and exciting. As the new student executive board has come into place, we are looking with excitment towards their year ahead. With a new board, and new ideas, Hillel is ready to beat the elements in creating an amazing Spring Semester!
With one of the harshes winters still amits us, Hillel is continually providing a place for students to find warmth both from the fireplace, but also the Hillel community. It is with your generous help that we are able to continually provide students a place to go and things to do to find solace from the winter elements. Our events give students a chance to socialize and take their minds off of their winter blues. We ask that you consider donating to F&M Hillel, if you have not already, in order to help us continue to provide students a warm building, community, and bellies throughout the rest of the snowy winter.
We hope you and your families remain safe and warm for the rest of this never ending winter.
Ralph & Rebecca
With a new calendar year, brings Hillel a new Student Executive Board. We would like to welcome everyone into their new positions! As the beginning of the semester has started, everyone has done an amazing job, and we cannot wait to see what is in store for the coming year. Below is a complete list of the board members.
With each passing year comes new ideas for events and programs at Hillel. This semester we decided to mix it up a bit with our programs. Here Molly Sulds '14 outlines these new ideas and the ideas behind them.
"The spring semester is underway and some changes are happening at Hillel. Students and staff have worked hard to create exciting new events that they hope will entice students to get more involved and feel more comfortable at their Hillel. The first of these events was a “Detour from D-Hall: Pre-Super Bowl Tailgate” where chili and other comfort foods were served. Events like this are designed to be more casual; a break from one’s routine and that relaxed attitude was evident at the event. This was the first of a series of “Detour from Dhall” meals. These meals will happen once a month and have a different theme each time. The focus on community and food creates a positive association with Hillel, even for those students who do not come to Shabbat or other events. In addition to that event, the Hillel Student Executive Board has developed new programming called “Hillel Presents…”. These programs will be similar to our previous weekly Café meetings held in the past, but will not happen on a weekly basis. They will focus on more education and activity based programming with a focus on Jewish content. Some themes include “Investigating Israel”, “Purim Party”, and our ever-popular “Chocolate Passover Seder”. Unfortunately, the first of these events was canceled due to inclement weather but I’m certainly looking forward to the next one!
As a senior and former board member, these changes are especially important to me. Through the years different programs have succeeded and others have not been the right fit for the community. I was involved in discussions last semester regarding some of the programming changes and am excited for what’s to come. The new events are focused on student engagement and that element will be crucial to their success. While it may feel odd to change programming that has been in place for years and helped form one’s experience with Hillel, these new programs can create new traditions and memories that will only further enhance the student experience. I want to see the Klehr Center for Jewish Life and Hillel succeed and supporting these programs is just one way of ensuring that success."
As our Jewish Engagement Fellow program is halfway done for the year, our fellows are able to look back on they all have accomplished this past semester, and all the wonderful connections they have made. Senior, Amy Lakin, takes a chance to remember her favorite moment while acting as one of our Engagement Interns.
"The Jewish Engagement Fellowship (JEF) program at F&M employs four Fellows, or Interns, of various ages each year who are given a goal of engaging the Jewish students of the F&M community. The objective of the program is to help the Jewish students at F&M become more in tune with their Jewish identity, and help students to have meaningful Jewish experiences while in college and through the rest of their lives.
As a Fellow, I am often going on coffee dates or enjoying a Shabbat meal with a variety of students on campus. These interactions focus on the students I am speaking with, hearing about their thoughts on their own Jewish journeys. The program really helps me just as much as it helps my engagees, as I am also forming stronger connections to my Jewish peers on campus. One of the best experiences I’ve had so far as a Fellow was lighting Hanukkah candles with one of my friends after a night class that we had together. F&M Hillel was hosting a candle lighting ceremony, but because of our night class, we were unable to attend. As we walked home from class, my friend and I were talking about how we felt like we were missing out on this opportunity due to our time conflict. Out of this conversation, we ended up lighting candles in her apartment on a menorah she had made herself. It was such a magical moment, as we sang the prayers and lit the candles. It was so nice to be able to celebrate Hanukkah away from home in this atmosphere. I’m so truly happy to have the opportunity to connect with Jewish students on a deeper level because otherwise a moment like that one probably would not have happened."
While on a daily basis we at Hillel are surrounded by and interact with mostly only students, we look foward to those special times we get to meet and talk with parents, alumni, and even grandparents! Here, Stanton Selbest, grandfather of Lauren Silverman '14, speaks of his visits to the Klehr Center and Hillel at F&M.
"Grammy (Barbara) and I went to F&M to see our granddaughter, Lauren Silverman, on a cold winter weekend four years ago. It was our first visit to this beautiful campus. We were very excited to learn that our weekend would include Shabbat Services and dinner as these are important parts of our weekly routine. When we arrived at Hillel before Services we were warmly greeted by Dr. Ralph Taber. He gave us a tour and showed us where the Service and Shabbat dinner would take place. We could smell the challah or was it the food? We enjoyed the Service, although we wished that more people had attended. We were somewhat amazed as people swarmed in for the dinner. With or without the Service it is gratifying to see so many college students gather together for Shabbat. The meal was delicious and everyone was warm and friendly. We were delighted to meet many of Lauren’s friends. We have been to F&M two more times, although not for Shabbat. Lauren took us to Hillel on both occasions. On our visit last spring we had an interesting discussion with Dr. Taber about the history and future of Jews in the United States.
F&M Hillel has an amazing facility in a fabulous location. We are thrilled that Lauren has found so much meaning in her Hillel connections at F&M. This is particularly rewarding to me as I had the same experience as a college student at Penn State many years ago. In many ways, it shaped my life both religiously and in my desire to be a volunteer and to take on leadership roles. I trust that Lauren, and many other F&M students will be able to look back on their time at F & M Hillel and have the same feelings. By the way, we look forward to being at Hillel for Shabbat Services and Dinner on Graduation Weekend."