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AIPAC Policy Conference Update: Rabbi Matt Wins National Award

At the 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C., Hillel at Texas A&M’s executive director, Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, won the “Ally of the Year” award for his work supporting pro-Israel efforts at Texas A&M. Rabbi Matt is one of three campus professionals nationwide to be awarded the Ally of the Year award for 2015. Texas A&M brought seven students and Rabbi Matt to the country’s largest annual gathering of pro-Israel activists held at the Washington Convention Center from March 1-3, 2015.  

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Passover at Hillel

Passover is rapidly approaching! Please join your Aggie Hillel family for two Passover s’darim (seders) on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4. Our Hillel Passover s’darim are free for Jewish students and their immediate families. Members of the Jewish community are asked to pay $36 for those 13 and up, $18 for children.  

The first night seder on Friday, April 3 will take place at Hillel beginning with abbreviated Friday night and Shabbat holiday services at 6:30 p.m. followed by a fun sing-along active Passover seder at 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room. Please RSVP on our Facebook event so we know how much maztah ball soup and brisket to prepare!  

On Saturday, April 4 our seder will begin at 8 p.m. at a very special to-be-revealed location not far from Hillel. Don’t miss this very different Passover seder by RSVP-ing on our Facebook event.  

For the non-Jewish community, we will also be hosting a model Passover seder at Hillel on Wednesday, April 8 at 3 p.m. RSVPs are required (please email hillel@tamuhillel.org to RSVP) and the cost is $10 for students and $20 for non-students, payable at the door. Space is limited and available on a first-RSVP, first-served basis.

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Purim Fun at Hillel

One of the largest, most well-attended, and fun events of the year took place last week at Aggie Hillel! Our Hillel Purim Party included a Purim Spiel produced and performed by our student leadership, maroon Hillel groggers, delicious appetizers, and two inflatable play structures (a boxing ring and bungee race). Students enjoyed watching a hilarious “Tipsy Torah” video which told the story of Purim, hearing the story through the play produced by classmates, and then the inflatables were filled and students hung out and enjoyed themselves throughout the evening. Purim 5775 at Hillel was a true success!
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Aggie Jewish Open House

by Emily Schneider, Marketing and Communications Intern 

The weekend of February 20-21, 2015  was spent schmoozing and introducing Jewish prospective Aggies to Aggieland at Aggie Jewish Open House. On Friday night at Hillel, we had lovely musical services led by our Jewish Student Coordinator, Veronica Beskin, and Executive Director, Rabbi Matt Rosenberg. Following services, we joined together to make kiddush and say the blessing of hamotzi over challah. After hamotzi, we made our way over to Chabad for dinner and a fun game of Taboo. It was a first great night of getting to know the prospective students.  

On Saturday, we began the night with brunch cooked by our chef, Marlo, at Hillel. Everyone had a great time getting to chat with one another. Once stomachs were satisfied, we had a Greek life panel, faculty panel, and admissions presentation. All of these presentations were very informational and helpful to the students. After the presentations, we took a campus tour to show students around. It made for a great afternoon! To finish off the night, Chabad and Hillel came together for Havdallah at the Aggie Ring located at the Association of Former Students building. It was a beautiful night.  

We thoroughly enjoyed having the prospective students as our guests this weekend. We hope to see you back in Aggieland soon for our next open house on February 12-13, 2016!

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Student Body President-Elect Joseph Benigno’s Statement on the Jewish Community

Hillel student board president Dan Rosenfield solicitied position papers from the three top candidates for Student Body President. Below is the statement submitted by SBP-elect Joseph Benigno: 

Howdy! 

I am running for Student Body President because I believe in the purpose and power of the Aggie Family. The Aggie Family is a strong and effective community in a large part because of our diversity. We come from different states, religions, races, worldviews and income levels, but together we are all Aggies. I believe this diversity makes the passion we all have for our university even more exceptional. Personally, I could not be a stronger supporter of the Jewish community at Texas A&M and the state of Israel. I was raised in a family that taught me the value and history of the Jewish people. My Polish-Italian immigrant grandfather, my father and my mother have all instilled in me a deep appreciation for Israel and have made me an avid political supporter.  

As the Student Body President, I would do everything in my power to appropriately promote and support the Jewish community on campus. I believe Texas A&M would benefit greatly from the continued growth of the population of Jewish students. I am also strongly in support of the creation of an Israel/Jewish studies program at Texas A&M. There is clearly a need for the university to have such a program to compete with other top tier universities. It came as a great surprise to me when I heard we do not currently offer this program.  

I would also take swift and decisive action against any hints of anti-Semitism on campus, and I would support any student legislation that would lead to better prevention or stronger punishments for any such action. The Aggie Family is about inclusion and respect, and any differential treatment has no place at Texas A&M. Supporting the Jewish community on campus fits perfectly with my goal to preserve the best of our past and promote the best of our future. Together, our Aggie spirit will leave a legacy for future generations. So come with spirit, leave a legacy and Go With Joe! 

Thanks and Gig ‘Em
Joseph Benigno ‘16

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New Holocaust Education Intern

Hillel at Texas A&M welcomes Toni Nickel ’17 as the country’s first USC Shoah Foundation’s Holocaust Education Intern. Thanks to the support of the A.I. and Manet Schepps Foundation, Texas A&M will house Toni who will plan Holocaust education programs for the campus community.
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Hillel Birthright Israel Trip May 26-June 8

This May, after finals are over, plan on your FREE trip of a lifetime! Our summer Taglit-Birthright Israel trip takes place May 26 through June 8, 2015! We’ll be traveling with students from Houston, San Antonio, and North Texas Hillels. Beginning February 3, register on the Ultimate Adventure With Israelis-Texas Trip page. Join a group of Aggies, other Jewish Texans, and Jewish Student Life Coordinator Veronica Beskin for this amazing 10-day adventure!

There is a $250 deposit required for Birthright, which is refunded at the end of a successful trip. Students are often responsible for their own airfare to and from the destination city (New York).

Taglit-Birthright Israel is an innovative partnership between the people of Israel through the Government of Israel, private philanthropists through the Birthright Israel Foundation and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod, and The Jewish Agency for Israel). This trip is a gift from Taglit-Birthright Israel.

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Aggie Jewish Open House & Aggieland Saturday

Aggie Jewish Open House

Our fourth annual Aggie Jewish Open House will take place February 20-21, 2015, On Friday, February 20, join us for Shabbat services and a huge communal dinner. Overnight, prospective students can spend the night with current Aggies. On Saturday join us for brunch, a campus tour, a Jewish faculty panel, a presentation from Admissions, and information about Jewish Greek life. All this will be followed by a Havdalah service to end Shabbat at the giant Aggie Ring sculpture! Register Online Now!

Aggieland Saturday

Aggieland Saturday, the annual campus-wide open house, takes place on Saturday, February 14, 2015. We welcome visiting students and their families to join us for Shabbat services followed by dinner on Friday, February 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. We will also have an open house at Hillel throughout the day on Saturday (from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Please email Rabbi Matt at rabbimatt@tamuhillel.org if you’d like to RSVP for dinner on Friday night.
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Israeli Soldiers Tell Their Stories at Hillel

Two Israeli soldiers will recount their personal experiences of serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday, February 17 at 7 p.m. at Hillel. Tamir and Elad will also discuss their backgrounds, life in Israel and answer questions. Their stories have never been told before.

The tour is sponsored by StandWithUs (SWU), an international Israel education organization and co-sponsored by Hillel at Texas A&M. Admission is free.

Tamir and Elad are part of StandWithUs “Israeli Soldiers Tour,” an innovative program featuring a diverse group of reserve duty Israeli college students. Each soldier has a personal story that exposes the dilemmas of the conflict, including facing an enemy that hides behind its civilians. They put a human face to the IDF uniform. Last names are withheld for security purposes.

SWU-IST Tamir and Elad 2-2015

Tamir

Born in New York, Tamir and his family moved to Israel at the age of 7. An alumnus of StandWithUs` 2012 Israel Fellowship, he is studying Political Science and Communications at Tel Aviv University. During his time in the IDF, he served as an officer and company commander in the Paratrooper Brigade. During his service he participated in Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and in 2011 he commanded 140 soldiers on Israel`s northern border with Lebanon and was responsible for border patrols, lookouts and various missions in order to defend the citizens of Israel.

Elad

Born in Israel, Elad resides in Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch, a small town right near the Lebanese Border. He served in an infantry unit in the IDF as a combat soldier and a mortars sergeant. He participated in many operations during the second Intifada, including one where he was shot and critically injured in what was dubbed the “Attack in the Worshipper’s Route” in Hebron in 2002. Elad was nominated for a citation award for his actions in battle. After two months of recovery, Elad volunteered in his unit, and after completing senior-level courses, he commanded a mortars platoon in the West Bank and Lebanon. Elad was discharged with honor after almost 4 years of service with the rank of First Senior Sergeant. After release, he volunteered in an organization that aids under-privileged and at-risk youth in preparation for army service. He has a degree in nutrition science from Tel-Chai Academic College and is an alumnus of the 2013 StandWithUs Israel Fellowship.
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Houston & Texas A&M Hillels Announce Lena Lieb as New Development Director

In a unique partnership, Houston Hillel and Hillel at Texas A&M are pleased to announce the joint appointment of Lena Lieb of Houston as their new Director of Development. Lieb will be based in Houston at the Houston Hillel but she will be reporting to both Rabbi Kenny Weiss, executive director of Houston Hillel, and Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, executive director of Hillel at Texas A&M.  As director of development, Lieb will work to help both Hillels reach more Jewish students on their respective campuses with dynamic and engaging programming. 

Lieb has most recently served as a development associate at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC.  She holds a masters in public administration from the University of Houston and is a 2008 graduate of Texas A&M University, where she served as president of Hillel.  Following graduation from Texas A&M, Lieb spent two years as a education fellow with the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, based in Jackson, Mississippi.

“We’re very excited about this unique opportunity for our two Hillels to work collaboratively,” said Weiss, “Lena has been involved with both of our Hillels first as an Aggie and then as a graduate student in Houston.” 

“Lena is the perfect candidate to work with both Hillels simultaneously,” said Rosenberg, “She thoroughly understands the unique culture of Aggieland and she’s thoroughly connected to the Houston and Texas Jewish philanthropic community. We look forward to the growth of both Hillels.”

Houston Hillel is a multi-campus Hillel Foundation that serves Jewish students at Rice University, the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Community College, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Houston Law Center, Young Professionals, and numerous other universities in the greater Houston area. More information is available at houstonhillel.org.

Founded in 1913, Hillel at Texas A&M in College Station serves the largest university in Texas.  Hillel at Texas A&M moved into their new 19,000 square foot A.I. and Manet Schepps building in 2012. Under new leadership, Hillel at Texas A&M is in a period of dynamic growth. Visit aggiehillel.org for additional information.