Kick-Off to a Great Year!Written on October 15, 2012 from the desk of Rabbi David Komerofsky
|Texas Hillel Kick-Off Events Attract Hundreds|
|By Cara Greenstein, Junior at the University of Texas
Summer hiatus? You would have never known it on the grounds of Texas Hillel on August 31. Over 250 University of Texas students—undergraduate, graduate and alumni—gathered in Hillel’s foyer for the first Shabbat of the year to recreate the vibrancy and hospitality that only the Texas Hillel community can offer.
Hillel’s mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.
Many familiar faces from previous years’ events and services were present, but the majority were new students who found a welcoming atmosphere within Hillel’s walls.
“Coming from Nashville, UT-Austin seemed huge and intimidating,” said Rebecca Hanai, an incoming freshman. “I wanted to find a place to make my Austin community smaller and a bit more personal, as well as to make my college experience one that was enriched with Jewish life. Little did I know, I was able to find the best of both worlds at Texas Hillel.”
Tasha Gorel, a junior from Sugarland, TX, led Friday evening’s Reform-led service to reconnect with her spirituality and ignite excitement for the semester ahead.
“Hillel provides such a warm and comforting environment where I constantly find myself feeling a sense of joy and connection,” Gorel said.
To continue the new connections between Jewish students at UT-Austin, Hillel hosted a festive (and kosher) Labor Day BBQ. Hundreds of students mingled on the patio as Hillel student representatives marketed dozens of different ways to get involved with Hillel this semester.
Texas Hillel creates opportunities for all Jewish students at The University of Texas at Austin to develop their own Jewish interests and participate in a welcoming campus-based community that respects the value of pluralism and promotes ongoing involvement in Jewish life.
Hillary Haspel, a UT sophomore from New Orleans, enjoyed introducing new students to Challah for Hunger, a philanthropic organization that bakes Challah for the hungry in the Austin area.
“I am so excited for the upcoming year in Challah for Hunger,” said Haspel, VP of Public Relations. “The enthusiasm that the freshmen have shown is really phenomenal and we can’t wait to get started this week.”
“I was able to sign up for some incredible activities that Hillel offers,” said Hanai. “I’m so excited to get involved in Texas Challah for Hunger, Texans for Israel and potentially an alternative Spring Break trip!”
While the excitement grows, so does Texas Hillel’s strength in the lives of Jewish students at the University to Texas at Austin.
“With just one event, I was able to identify with my Jewish roots and make connections with people I never would have met otherwise,” said Hanai.