Jewish community club Hillel steadily growing

Hillel by Bianca Benedí

Shabbat dinners are held biweekly in Z-kitchen; they are always open to all students.

February 25, 2015 / Volume XXXVII / Issue 2

In the past year, Hillel’s activities have increased significantly. Bolstered by a change in leadership and increased advertising, the Jewish community club at New College is flourishing. Led by second-year Allya Yourish, Hillel’s events have doubled and membership is continually growing.

“Hillel’s really busy this semester,” Yourish said. “We have b’nei mitzvah classes starting up this week. These classes will allow Jewish students to have the education necessary to participate in a b’nei mitzvah celebration later this year.” Yourish added that non-Jewish students are allowed to take the classes as well, although they would not be participating in the b’nei mitzvah celebration (b’nei mitzvah is the plural form of bar and bat mitzvah).

Dine and Discourse events are also held weekly with Rabbi Ed, who sponsors the club, on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. The topics discussed range from the significance of spirituality, to the Tenant of Tikum Olam (repair the world), to Jewish history. The event usually offers vegan and non-vegan pizza.

Twice-monthly Shabbat dinners round out the major Hillel events, where all students, Jewish or otherwise (“like every Hillel event ever,” Yourish added), are invited to participate in the ritual of Shabbat with home-made food and prayers led by alum Matthew Andersen (‘14).

“Hillel has stayed fairly true to its roots compared to last year, but I can also gladly say that the club and its new board have come a long way,” second-year and public relations representative Dylan Pryor said of the club. A member since spring of 2014, Dylan runs the group’s Facebook page and advertises its weekly events.

One of the newest events being offered by the club is a weekly Kabbalah class led by Rabbi Ed. An ancient Jewish tradition, Kabbalah classes teach students how to understand the oftentimes complicated but significant relationship between the universe and God.

Hillel has also offered student connections to various resources, such as scholarships and internships for Jewish students, as well as an opportunity to participate in a variety of club-based events outside of Sarasota. Most recently, club members of Hillel traveled to Tampa on Feb. 23 to participate in University of South Florida Hillel’s Great Latke-Hamantash Debate. Future plans for Hillel include expanding into the greater Sarasota area, which has a notable Jewish community.

“The most important thing I can tell anyone about us is that Hillel is more about community than anything, and community is more than just one group,” Pryor said. “As a Jewish student, being able to share such an important part of my identity with others is honestly a very rewarding feeling.”


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