Students at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor campus offer varying views of Jewish campus life, U-M Hillel.
“When asked for reflections on this past year, I couldn’t think of a better way to reflect than to simply ask our students, representing different years and experiences, what stood out for them when they thought about their Jewish experience on campus. Here is what they shared, and here is exactly why I am so proud to lead such a diverse, vibrant and student-led Hillel,” said Tilly Shames, executive director, U-M Hillel.
Oak Park, U-M Class of ’20
“The first thing that comes to mind, much like many other students, is Shabbat dinner. Growing up, I enjoyed celebrating Shabbat each week with my family, and I am grateful that Hillel provides that same opportunity for me and all students at Michigan. Shabbat dinner at Hillel is a welcome rest at the end of the week and a chance to catch up with new and old friends. While it is always a pleasure to come to Hillel on Friday night, Hillel also supports a Shabbat in the Home program, sponsoring students and groups to host their own Shabbat dinners. My roommates and I host a few each semester, and we are able to share the joy of Shabbat with many friends who don’t go to Hillel but are happy to celebrate Shabbat with us. It is really tremendous that Hillel supports students in this way, and I’d encourage everyone to consider hosting their own Shabbat dinner with their friends.”
Farmington Hills, U-M Class of ’21
“This academic year, Hillel was my home base. I was a member of the ShabUM Committee where we helped the student Host at Home coordinator plan the one Friday night of the school year where Hillel purposefully closes its doors and students across campus host their own Shabbat meals in their homes or dorms with their respective communities.
Hillel is able to reimburse students for their meals so monetary expenses become a non-issue.
Being on the committee positioned me to become the next Host at Home coordinator beginning in 2019. In this role, I engage with students to empower them to host a meal of their own any weekend throughout the school year, including Passover seders and ShabUM. Without Hillel’s support, this program wouldn’t be possible. I have gained so much from just a single semester as Host at Home coordinator, from meeting with students to planning a hosting workshop, and I look forward to meeting new students and empowering them come fall semester. “
Southfield, U-M Class of ’22
“Now that I have completed my first year at Michigan, I can say that being a Jewish student on campus is a task that can be difficult, but, ultimately, a wonderful opportunity for growth. Whether it is kosher food, Israel advocacy or a friendly staff member to meet for coffee, I learned I could always turn to Hillel to help me positively impact the Jewish community in a significant way.
“For me, I have especially benefited from this in my work with Wolverine for Israel, our campus’ group of AIPAC-trained student activists. It is no secret that this past year was quite a roller-coaster for students working to advance Israel advocacy and education. Yet, I can say with full confidence that Hillel and its leadership were always there to give us the tools to grow stronger from such experiences. I am so thankful for Hillel being there to never let us give up on our mission and for making Michigan a place for all Jews to get involved and give back to their community.”
West Bloomfield, U-M Class of ’19
“As a graduating senior, I find myself reflecting on my undergraduate experience and all of the things I will miss as I move onto my next chapter in the book of life. Things like being in such close proximity to my friends, diversity in experiences just outside my door, and the constant opportunity for growth and learning are certainly on the list, but nothing is paralleled by how much I will miss my Hillel community.
Hillel has provided me with opportunities to engage in dialogue with peers both inside and outside the Jewish community, to learn through leadership experiences and to define what Judaism means to me. It has provided me with space for growth and some of the most formative experiences of college. Over the past four years, the Hillel community was my home away from home; it is a community I will forever be grateful for, and it is one that I will always miss.”