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What is Shabbat like at Penn State?
Every week students come together at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for student-led Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Shabbat services followed by a free kosher dinner prepared by our very own student “cooking team.” Students often come up with unique themes for services while still enjoying the traditional spirit of Shabbat. While some students come to both services and meals, others may attend only services or only to enjoy a home-cooked Shabbat meal.
What are holiday observances and celebrations like Penn State?
Penn State Hillel runs a full program of services and meals for the High Holidays, Passover, and other festivals and holidays. During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, services are held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. During Passover, there is a Seder on the first and second night. Other holidays are celebrated with programs, services, and dinners depending on where they fall during the academic calendar.
Can prospective students visit Penn State and stay overnight with a Jewish student?
Absolutely! The best way to know if Penn State is right for you is to visit our campus. Current students are always eager to show their love for Penn State and Hillel to prospective students. The University Office of Admissions at Penn State can arrange for prospective students to tour the campus, observe classes, and eat in the dining halls. Prospective students interested in Jewish life on campus should contact our staff.
What social justice and community service opportunities does Hillel have?
Penn State Hillel is committed to pursuing “tzedek” (social justice) and “tikkun olam” (repairing the world). One recent program entitled “Talk to Me” was a campus-wide, week-long event inspiring conversation among students dealing with diversity on campus. Also, Hillel is consistently a top money-raiser for Penn State’s Dance MaraTHON, the largest student run philanthropy in the world. Hillel also offers Alternative Spring Breaks where students have the opportunity to do community service in different environments.
How can I support Penn State Hillel?
Penn State Hillel relies on generous donors to support our on-going programming and special initiatives. We believe that one of the most important things the Jewish community can do is to invest in the future of our students, as they are the future Jewish community. Please click here to learn more about giving opportunities to Penn State Hillel.
My student doesn’t go to Hillel. Why should I make an annual gift?
Although your student might not actively seek out the Hillel on campus, it is likely that Hillel has still played a role in your child’s college education. Many programs on and off-campus are sponsored or co-sponsored by Hillel. Also, Hillel has played a role in many changes around the University, for example, providing a kosher food option. As a major organization on campus, it is quite possible that your student has been affected by Hillel at some point.
I graduated and/or my son or daughter graduated. Why should I continue giving to the Penn State Hillel?
It is important that Penn State Hillel continues to grow and expand in order to provide a Jewish environment for students in the years to come. Whether you were active in Hillel or only came to one program, it is critical that Jewish life at Penn State continues to thrive. The generous support of our alumni is critical to our success. Your contribution is what allows Penn State Hillel to continue to grow, develop student leaders, and create a Jewish community on campus that will in turn enhance the Jewish people and the world.
How is Hillel connected to the University community?
Although Penn State Hillel is a private not-for-profit organization (501-c3) and is fully accredited by Hillel International, we are an integral part of the larger Penn State community. Our dynamic programs reach many students, not just from the Jewish community. In fact, we often co-sponsor events with other campus groups. Our students are frequently active in other campus organizations, and Hillel as an organization has a role in other campus organizations. For example, Hillel has a fundraising team to support Penn State’s Dance Marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. In turn, Penn State is very supportive of Hillel and our mission to provide a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.
I never had anything to do with Penn State Hillel when I was a student 10/20/30/40 years ago, so why should I support it now?
Although Hillel might not have been an important part of your college education, it is becoming a destination for Jewish students on campus today. We are growing and expanding to accommodate the needs of the approximate 6,000 students that attend Penn State. Support for Hillel is an investment in the future of American Jewish life, and one which we are trying to ensure will continue to pay great dividends for all of us.
Is there kosher dining on campus?
Yes, the kosher kitchen, named Pure, is the first certified-kosher kitchen and dining facility at the University. Pure will be located at the recently renovated East Food District at Findlay Commons. In addition to offering kosher food options, which meet Jewish dietary principles, Pure also will be an allergy-friendly station with no dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, gluten and sesame on the menu.
How many Jewish students are there at Penn State?
When Hillel was established in 1936, there were only 400 Jewish students at Penn State. Today, there are approximately 5,000!
What kind of student programs does Penn State Hillel offer?
Penn State Hillel runs a wide array of programs designed to meet the needs of diverse student interests. Our programs include social, cultural, educational, and religious activities, as well as weekly Shabbat services and holiday celebrations. We also engage students in programs dealing with social justice and community service. While we have a hard-working student board that plans many of our programs, all students are welcome and encouraged to pursue their ideas and take on a leadership role in Hillel. If you have an idea for a program, we can work together to make it happen.
How do students get involved with Hillel? Are there membership fees?
Any student on campus is welcome to participate in Hillel sponsored events. There are no membership fees and students are encouraged to attend as many programs and activities as they would like. Programs are supported by donations from parents, alumni, and the Jewish community. Students can also get involved by planning a program or activity.