What opportunities exist for me to get involved with the Jewish community at Penn State?
There are so many opportunities! We are here to offer ways to explore Judaism and Jewish life.
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 the generous gifts from our parents, alumni, and the Jewish community. Students can also get involved by planning their own initiatives or activities through JewPAC.
Penn State Hillel has its own Thon org called LEV, JLF (Jewish Learning Fellowship), a sports club called Yallah Sports, Challah For Hunger, weekly Shabbat services and dinners, and holiday services and celebrations.
There are also travel opportunities through Birthright Israel, Onward Israel, Perspectives, and alternative breaks- where students have the opportunity to do community service in different environments such as Roatán, Honduras and Houston, Texas.
What are holiday observances and celebrations like at 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 night. Other holidays are celebrated with programs, services, and dinners depending on where they fall during the academic calendar.
Every Friday night students come together in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for a student-led pluralistic Shabbat service followed by a Kosher-style dinner. 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 Shabbat meal.
Friday night in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center is not the only way our students can enjoy Shabbat. Through JewPAC (The Jewish Programming Allocation Committee) our microgrant program we help fund and support students to create their own Shabbat experience.
Why should I support Penn State Hillel?
Penn State Hillel plays a role in many aspects of Jewish life on campus. We have created strong relationships with the University to ensure Penn State is a safe place to express Jewish identity. This includes the creation of a kosher food meal plan option on campus. Additionally, many programs on and off-campus are sponsored or co-sponsored by Hillel, even if a staff person is not present.
Even if Hillel was not an important part of your college experience, Jewish life is seeing a renaissance on campus today. We need to expand to accommodate the needs of the approximate 5,000 students that attend Penn State. Support for Hillel is an investment in the future of Jewish life, and your gift can make a difference for years to come.
The generous support of alumni, parents, and friends is critical to our success on campus. 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 lead our Jewish community.
How can I support Penn State Hillel?
Penn State Hillel relies on the support of generous alumni, parents, and friends to do the important work of engaging Jewish students on campus. Please go to www.pennstatehillel.org/give to make your gift today, or learn more about sustainable investments in our initiatives.
I am a prospective student- how can I learn more about Penn State Hillel?
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.
Please visit our prospective students page for more info
I’m interested in going to Israel. Can Hillel help me get there?
Yes, Penn State Hillel sends several buses of students to Israel over Winter and Summer breaks in a partnership with Birthright Israel. This is a FREE 10 day trip where you will learn and experience Israel as a Penn State Community. To learn more or register to join a trip click here.
How is Hillel connected to the University community?
Although Penn State Hillel is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization 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 regularly co-sponsor events with other student organizations. Our students are frequently active in other campus organizations, and Hillel as an organization has a role in other campus organizations. In turn, Penn State is very supportive of Hillel and our mission to provide a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.
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 is located at the recently renovated East Food District at Findlay Commons. In addition to offering kosher food options, which meet Jewish dietary principles, Pure is also 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!