UMass Amherst Grinspoon Hillel House. Our guide was Michelle Davidson-Schapiro, an enthusiastic and informative member of the Hillel Staff.
Our beginning point of the tour included an overview of Jewish Life on campus along with the offerings available through the Hillel House. The Jewish population on campus is usually comprised of around 3,000 individuals. Any given week during the academic year, around two or three hundred students will take advantage of services or events hosted by the Hillel.
In addition to Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox services offered on Fridays and Saturdays, the Hillel hosts a wide array of events throughout the year. Check out their bulletin board that advertises all of the events from 2009-2010! There are over 25 Jewish Student Groups on campus that help to plan, host, or participate in the varied events offered. A telling accolade related to the large amount of offerings is something referred to as the Haber Award. This award is decided based on outstanding programming and UMass is the only campus Hillel anywhere to receive this award six times!
We also learned about the trip to Israel that's free for Jewish students called the Birthright Israel Trip. There are multiple trips held throughout the year, mainly in December and during the summer. Each year, a couple hundred UMass students will participate in the trip, which lasts for 10 days.
In addition to hosted events, there is an academic component connected to the Hillel House. Each semester, a sampling of one-credit courses is taught by the staff of the Hillel. Ranging from, Jewish Art Making to Everyday Hebrew the courses are a great opportunity for students to learn more about their culture.
I mentioned in my previous post, a residential component available at the Hillel House. We learned that 26 individuals can live on the top floor of the Hillel House. There is a kitchen available for residents (in addition to the Kosher meat prep kitchen on the lower level of the facility), along with a laundry room and lounge. The rooms are quite nice! We were able to sneak a peak of one of the rooms that was being cleaned.
We learned a great deal about Jewish life on campus and the UMass Hillel House this morning. A big THANK YOU to Michelle our tour guide!