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Campus Life 008: Hip Hillel Happenings

Do you dream of becoming the next American Idol, but balk at waiting in those long audition lines? Take your chances at Campus Superstar, an American Idol-style competition held across America through the Hillels of Georgia, Indiana University Hillel, and the Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh. “Superstar” hopefuls go through several rounds; the finalist becomes Campus Superstar and is awarded recording studio time, public performances, meetings with top recording producers, and, of course, cash.

At Rutgers University, student Danielle Josephs has organized the Middle East Coexistence House, where 13 Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian students are now living and learning together. “We’re getting in each other’s faces,” she says, “but we’re learning about each other’s beliefs and showing it’s possible for people of different religions to prosper together.”

Hundreds of Jewish students and young professionals nationwide gather each year in Long Beach, California for Jewlicious @ the Beach, hosted by Long Beach Hillel. A celebration of “jewinity,” Jewlicious is a music festival, spiritual gathering, and international conference rolled into one 60-hour weekend, with workshops, concerts by cutting-edge Jewish performers, Shabbat meals and prayer services, yoga, pilates, poetry jams, wine tasting, film screenings, dance parties, and more.

At Cornell Hillel’s Jewish scuba diving club, students dive into pristine waters and their Jewish heritage. During one school break, 15 students scuba-dove off the Caribbean island of Curaçao and also explored the history of the island’s Jewish community, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

Approximately 10 Washington, DC-area Jewish college students travel to Kharkov, Ukraine each year to participate in the annual Pesach Project. Along with their peers from the former Soviet Union, they conduct seders at schools, homes for the elderly, and apartments of homebound individuals—celebrating Jewish traditions where practicing Judaism was once forbidden.

Every week, students at the Claremont Colleges bake and sell challahs to the community, donating the proceeds from their Challah for Hunger project to such causes as Darfur refugee relief. Additional Challah for Hunger chapters have formed at the University of Texas, University of Rochester, and Smith College.

Students at three Pennsylvania schools—University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple University—have joined together for Hillel in Philadelphia’s Jewish University Students Together in Community Exchange (JUSTICE) project. Once a month, students collaborate with community residents to help improve the city’s less fortunate areas—setting up computer labs at community centers and working with schoolchildren to clean parks—while they learn about Judaism and community service.

MIT Hillel and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students are forging personal connections through the Hibur (connection) program: like-minded students and faculty on both sides of the ocean share their research, meet in person (last year MIT Hillel hosted 14 Technion-Israel students), and develop personal and professional relationships.

—Aviva Perlman,
Communications Associate,
Hillel: The Foundation
for Jewish Campus Life




 


Union for Reform Judaism.