Acceptance. Community. Friends. These are words that describe Hillel, the Jewish student
organization at Bowling Green State University. Despite its origin of being a Jewish student
group, this chapter of Hillel includes a diverse group of students from different backgrounds
and a variety of religions, making the organization’s focus on acceptance within our community.
This is why it was not a shock to anyone that after the Pittsburgh tragedy at a Jewish
synagogue the group held a vigil for the students. The vigil allowed students to mourn, to be
surrounded by friends, and to feel safe in a time when the world felt dangerous.|
What Hillel did for its members and the community during the month of November did not stop
at the vigil. Throughout the month, Hillel held three Shabbats, dinners on a Friday night that
signify the start of the day of rest. Shabbats are always free and open to the community, and
members are encouraged to bring friends and even visiting family. The first Shabbat of the
month was voting themed in order to discuss the importance of voting and the impact it can
have on the community. The second Shabbat was titled Shabbat with your BGSU Mishpacha.
Mishpacha is the Hebrew word for Jewish family. At this Shabbat, the president and advisor
asked everyone in the room to write and draw on a poster what they love about being Jewish
and/or the Jewish faith and culture. The purpose was to have members of Hillel restore their
hope and faith after the scary events that had taken place across the country by having them
remind themselves what they love about Judaism. The poster was a grand success, and the
majority of the attendees wrote or drew two or more additions. The third Shabbat was titled
Shabbat 101. This Shabbat was a way to let those, who are not familiar with the tradition, learn
about the customs. At this event, the Jewish Culture Chair explained aspects, such as why we
light Shabbat candles, the blessing over the wine (or grape juice in our case), and why the
Challah bread is covered. In addition to the information on Shabbat, one of the student
members made dinner for the organization. The students making dinner is a tradition of Hillel.
According to the Hillel Jewish Life Coordinator, cooking dinner allows the students to have more
ownership over Shabbat and the organization, making it more significant.
On top of the meaningful vigil and the impressive Shabbat dinners, Hillel held three other
noteworthy events during the month of November, consisting of a game night, film night, and
ice skating event. Game Night was an evening where students took a study break and played
their favorite board games with friends. At Jewish Film Night, Hillel played the classic movie,
Yentl, starring Barbara Streisand. The movie highlighted Jewish culture while also starring a
prominent Jewish actress. The third event was an ice-skating event that raised money for one
of Hillel’s partner charities Give Kids The World, a nonprofit organization where children from
the Make a Wish Foundation, who want to go to Disney World, can attend with their family free
of charge. The ice-skating event was a fun way for students to support an important cause.
With these impactful and memorable events that Hillel holds, it is no wonder why they were
featured in Hillel International for a cultural event done last month. Hillel gives so much to the
university and their members and creates a safe place for all students that allows for growth
and acceptance, which is why they deserve to be recognized.
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