fbpx

Campaign dollars help fund Jewish community & culture on campus

I grew up in a very secular interfaith family. My first real experience with the Jewish community took place in college at the University of Maryland Hillel. It was the mid 1990’s, and as I recall, I really needed to use a phone. As I approached the Hillel I thought, “I’m Jewish. I bet they’ll let me use their phone.”

Upon entering the building, I was greeted by a very enthusiastic receptionist who happened to be a fellow student. After introducing ourselves, Miriam immediately started inviting me to every upcoming event on Hillel’s calendar. It was terribly overwhelming for someone uninitiated to vibrant Jewish communal life. Miriam seemed to sense this, so she narrowed her invitations down to just one: “Come to Shabbat dinner this week.”

I had never been to a Shabbat dinner. I didn’t even know that was a thing people actually did. I had some vague recollection that Shabbat was on Saturday, but beyond that, I had no clue. But I was a college student and I wasn’t going to pass up a free meal, so I showed up that Friday night. And then I showed up the next Friday night, and the next, and from there I was hooked. To say that my experience at Hillel had a profound effect on the course of my life would not be an exaggeration. Hillel engaged me in Jewish communal life and helped me connect with my Jewish heritage, and I will be forever grateful.

In terms of continuity of Jewish life, college students are perhaps most vulnerable as they are experiencing being on their own for the first time. Whether a student has enjoyed a rich Jewish life, or are like me and newly exposed to it upon entering college, Hillels are there to provide a Jewish foundation away from home. Students are engaged through a variety of programs, celebrations, and educational and leadership opportunities.

Addison Caruso, who recently graduated from Miami University, enjoyed the connections Hillel provided. “Hillel has helped me establish meaningful and lifelong connections to other Jewish students while giving me the support and opportunity to create and be involved in insightful and engaging programming.”

Addison’s mother, Patty Caruso, has witnessed the importance of Hillel in her son’s life. “It is vital to keep our Jewish youth engaged. A thriving campus Hillel is crucial to the college experience, says Patty. “College is a period of time when young adults are molding themselves into whom and what they will become as older adults. As a Jewish community, we must capture these questioning young
adults through a vibrant Hillel that has alluring programs and a warm, welcoming facility. Doing so will help to ensure that our Jewish lineage continues from one generation to the next.”

Another student, Elise Kramer, found comfort in the family atmosphere Hillel provided her as a new student. “When I came to Miami from
Colorado, I was afraid of being so far away from my family. With my Hillel family, I can celebrate my Judaism freely and it provides me a place to call home,” says Elise. She adds, “Without Hillel, I would not be the leader, the Jew, or the family member I am today.”

When I came to Miami from Colorado, I was afraid of being so far away from my family. With my Hillel family, I can celebrate my Judaism freely and it provides me a place to call home. Without Hillel, I would not be the leader, the Jew, or the family member I am today.

~ Elise Kramer
Student, Miami University of Ohio

When I came to Miami from Colorado, I was afraid of being so far away from my family. With my Hillel family, I can celebrate my Judaism freely and it provides me a place to call home. Without Hillel, I would not be the leader, the Jew, or the family member I am today.

~ Elise Kramer
Student, Miami University of Ohio

When I came to Miami from Colorado, I was afraid of being so far away from my family. With my Hillel family, I can celebrate my Judaism freely and it provides me a place to call home. Without Hillel, I would not be the leader, the Jew, or the family member I am today.

~ Elise Kramer
Student, Miami University of Ohio

When I hear stories like this, it reinforces my love for Jewish communal work. Each year, funds raised through JFGD’s Annual Campaign are allocated across our community. Miami University and the Ohio Valley Hillel Consortium each receive allocations of $10,000. In addition to Miami University, the Ohio Valley Hillel Consortium helps fund Hillels at Indiana University, Purdue and the University of Louisville.

Recently, members of our Dayton community were invited to Miami University to enjoy a Shabbat dinner at the campus Hillel. JFGD Board member and incoming board president Bruce Feldman, who happens to be a Miami University alumnus, enjoyed the evening. “It brought back good memories of my time spent at the Miami Hillel and the many Shabbat dinners that I attended,” Bruce shared. “It also showed me that young Jewish students spend valuable time at the Hillel and that our Dayton Jewish community funding helps to make that happen.”

I know how much my experience with Hillel meant to me, and how it has shaped my Jewish identity. It is a privilege to work for an organization that continues to support Hillels and help mold our young adults. Supporting Hillels in just one, yet critical, component of JFGD’s mission, which is to care for those in need, strengthen Jewish life, and create connections among Jews.

For more information on how your campaign donations help make an impact, please contact Juliet Glaser, Campaign Director, at (937) 401-1558 or jglaser@jfgd.net.

Each year, funds raised through The Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton’s Annual Campaign are allocated across our community. Miami University and the Ohio Valley Hillel Consortium each receive allocations of $10,000. In addition to Miami University, the Ohio Valley Hillel Consortium helps fund Hillels at Indiana University, Purdue and the University of Louisville.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This