On Thursday, September 4, the University of Louisville Hillel held its first event of the new school year – a cookout at the Interfaith Center on the Belknap Campus. It was an excellent opportunity for a meet and greet of new and returning Cardinals, and I am happy to say, it was heavily attended by almost 40 students, more than half of them Jewish. With kosher burgers and hot dogs served, students voiced their excitement for the coming year.
“I’m so happy about this turnout. I feel like we are going to get so much accomplished and have a great time,” Miriam Leah Amchin, a junior, said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for Hillel.”
Indeed, students felt the urge to become more involved. Wes Campple, a freshman said, “I feel like I’ve neglected the Jewish side of me and so I want to learn more about it. I want to learn more about Israel especially. What better time than college?”
Louisville’s Hillel offers a welcoming atmosphere and is closely connected with students of other faiths. Since the Hillel office is located in the Interfaith Center, Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal students all share common areas and attend one another’s events. To have a space with other faiths allows for dialogue, cooperation, friendship and education about how truly closely connected we are. Hillel students were very happy that many students of different faiths joined them for the opening event.
Hillel is in the process of re-energizing its program in attempt to help foster growth. Its members want to help students develop as individuals and cultivate their own Jewish identities to carry with them long after graduation. With the recent addition of Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman as chair of the Jewish Studies Department, Hillel will be co-sponsoring many events such as table talk lunches, a large dinner in October celebrating Sukkot and opportunities for students to learn about topics such as Israel, Jewish culture and literature.
In his opening remarks, Hillel President Josh Goodman said, “We are incredibly excited for this year.” He announced the second event would be ‘Schmooze with the Jews – pizza and a movie’ on September 9 in the IFC.
But perhaps the one comment that best encapsulated the spirit of the evening came from Perry Factor, a graduate student who exclaimed with incendiary spirit, “Hillel is back!”
Indeed Hillel is back, stronger than ever and ready to roll.