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Travels With Hillel

Join Hillel on our adventures this 2014-2015 school year!  We’re planning some fantastic trips to Israel and to support Israel, to Eastern Europe, and to help rebuild homes destroyed by disaster!  

During the 2014-2015 school year, we anticipate sending students on the following trips:

  • November 2-3, 2014: AIPAC National Summit in Dallas (space is limited)
  • December-January: Winter break Taglit Birthright Israel trip (registration begins September 9 at freeisraeltrip.org)
  • January 11-18, 2014 (Winter Break): Jewish Disaster Response Corps Alternative Break Trip to assist with disaster recovery in Arkansas or Mississippi (space is very limited).
  • March 1-3, 2015: AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C.
  • March 15-22, 2015 (Spring Break): JDC Entwine Hillels of Texas trip to Jewish communities in Hungary and Romania (space is very limited).
  • May, 2015: Summer Taglit Birthright Israel trip
  • August, 2015: Hillel Institute for new Engagement Interns in St. Louis (2015-2016 engagement interns only, applications available in the spring.)

If you’re interested in any of these trips (especially the ones with limited space), please contact Rabbi Matt Rosenberg at rabbimatt@tamuhillel.org. 

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Gig ‘Em Week and September at Hillel

Gig ‘Em Week begins Sunday, August 24 and Hillel has a great lineup of welcome (back) events for our Jewish student community through the week and beyond.

On Sunday the 24th we’re hosting a free kosher BBQ and shaved ice event at Hillel from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.  On Wednesday, August 27 join us for a free bagel and lox brunch from 9:00-10:30 a.m.  Finally, we close Gig ‘Em Week with a huge Welcome Back Shabbat free services and dinner on Friday, August 29 at 6:30 p.m.! (In case you didn’t get the hint, all events at Hillel are free for undergrad and graduate students at A&M or Blinn.)

After Gig ‘Em Week, we continue with weekly Shabbat services and dinner at 6:30 p.m. every Friday.  Every Friday morning beginning August 29 at 9 a.m. Rabbi Matt is hosting his Bible Study Breakfasts at Blue Baker on University. 

September

On Thursday, September 4 we are offering training in collaboration with the American Red Cross for anyone who is interested in becoming trained as a Red Cross Disaster Shelter worker, in the event the Hillel building is needed as an emergency shelter.  

On Tuesday, September 9 at 7 p.m., join us for a special workshop as we welcome a Torah scribe (sofer) to Hillel to repair our Torah scrolls.  He will be conducting a fascinating workshop on the scribal arts of a Torah scroll.  You’ll be amazed to learn how a sofer does his work. 

September 9 is also the start of Taglit Birthrght Israel registration for our winter break trip!  Register online at freeisraeltrip.org.

Then, on Monday, September 15 at 6 p.m., join us for our huge kickoff event for Aggie Students Supporting Israel!  Congressman Bill Flores will be our keynote speaker and discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.  This event is open to everyone who loves Israel, not just Jewish students.  Help us by inviting your friends who support Israel!

Finally, our welcome season concludes with the High Holy Days, which begin with Selichot on Saturday, September 20 and continue with Rosh HaShannah on September 24-26 and Yom Kippur on October 3-4.  (Here’s the complete schedule.) Following Yom Kippur we also have a plethora of activities planned for Sukkot in our Sukkah on the upstairs patio at Hillel.  Stay up-to-date by downloading our Google Calendar

 

 

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High Holy Day Schedule Announced

With Rosh HaShannah just six weeks away, Hillel at Texas A&M is excited to announce our High Holy Day schedule for 5775 (Fall 2014)!  All High Holy Day services and meals are free for students.  A recommended donation of $100 per adult is suggested for non-students (members of the 12th Mensch Club are entitled to complimentary admission.)

Rosh HaShannah

  • Saturday, September 20 – Selichot (late night pre-Rosh HaShannah service) – 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 24 – Erev RoshHaShannah – 6:30 p.m. services followed by dinner
  • Thursday, September 25 – First Day of Rosh HaShannah – 10 a.m. services followed by brunch
  • Thursday, September 25 – Aggieland Jewish Tashlich – 6:30 p.m. at the fountain near Blue Baker on University (no bread will be thrown)
  • Friday, September 26 – Second Day of Rosh HaShannah – 10 a.m. services followed by brunch
  • Friday, September 26 – Community Tashlich – 3:30 p.m. at the pond in Central Park

Yom Kippur

  • Friday, October 3 – Pre-fast meal – 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday, October 3 – Kol Nidre – 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 4 – Yom Kippur morning (shachrit) ervices – 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 4 – Yom Kippur afternoon (mincha/neila) services – TBA
  • Saturday, October 4 – Break the fast dinner – 8:18 p.m.
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Bible Study Breakfast With Rabbi Matt

Beginning on Friday, August 29 at 9 a.m., Rabbi Matt Rosenberg will be offering a weekly hour-long Bible study breakfast meeting for Jewish students at Blue Baker on Dominik Drive.  Each week, the group will nosh on bagels and discuss the weekly Torah portion.  No experience is necessary and the study will be conducted in English!  Hillel will purchase bagels for students in attendance.  No RSVP is needed but please check the calendar or contact Hillel because due to holiday events, some weeks might be cancelled.  

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Our New Engagement Interns in St. Louis

Last week our four new engagement interns – Stephanie Weiss, Sam Sternfeld, Sarah Brown, and Jonathan Rahmani spent an intense four days in St. Louis at Hillel Institute.  The four are the first four Aggies to serve as engagement interns at Hillel at Texas A&M.  The four-day training was held at Washington University in St. Louis and provided the new interns with training on meeting and developing relationships with unaffiliated Jewish students at Texas A&M.  The training and work of the interns is being supported by a grant from Hillel International as part of their decade-long campus engagement initiative.  The four engagement interns will meet with Jewish students at A&M and assist them in the progression of their Jewish journeys.  

Hillel’s executive director, Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, journeyed to St. Louis with the interns to facilitate their training and he will supervise the cohort of four as they meet new Jewish students throughout the school year.  Veronica Beskin, Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Coordinator, also traveled to St. Louis for Hillel Institute as part of her training as a new professional in the organization.  While at Institute, Veronica was notified that she will be part of the Hillel mentorship program, which pairs her up with a seasoned professional in the field over the course of the next 18 months.  

 

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Aggieland Shavuot

On Tuesday night, Hillel and Congregation Beth Shalom came together for a united community Shavuot program at Congregation Beth Shalom (CBS) in Bryan.  The evening began with a children’s program led by CBS religious school director Heather Concklin.  That was followed by a traditional dairy Shavuot dinner prepared by Hillel’s Chef Marlo.  The dinner included cheese blintzes, macaroni and cheese, and delicious mini-cheesecakes!  Following dinner Hillel’s Rabbi Matt Rosenberg and CBS’ Susan Miller led the community in evening prayer.  Finally, there was a study session that continued into the evening about the Bible facilitated by Susan and Rabbi Matt.  While it wasn’t a traditional all-night study session, it was a great start to community collaboration for this often-negelected, yet very important holiday that commemorates the giving of Torah on Mt. Sinai.  

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Summer at Hillel

During the summer, Hillel will have a modified building schedule. From May 26 through August 22 our open hours will be from noon to 5 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As always, the building remains open 24/7 for students with an access code and if staff are here, the building might be open at other times as well. Regardless, call us (979-703-1856) or email Rabbi Matt at rabbimatt@tamuhillel.org to schedule an appointment to visit. 

During the summer, there will be four Shabbat services and dinner – Fridays June 6, July 4 (starting at 7:30 p.m.), July 25, and August 15 starting at 6:30 p.m. On August 22, right before Gig ‘em week, we’ll have Shabbat services and dinner that begin at 6 p.m.  On August 29, we resume our weekly schedule of Shabbat services and dinner at 6:30 p.m.  

Other activities will be scheduled based on student interest. Watch this site, join our Facebook page, and subscribe to our email newsletter (below on this page) to stay up-to-date.

 In addition to our welcome back events during Gig ‘em Week and as the semester resumes, we’ll be offering special programming for new incoming students in the fall – please email Rabbi Matt at rabbimatt@tamuhillel.org to be notified of special events for incoming students. Have a great summer!

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Spring Semester in Review

by Emily Schneider

This semester has been a great one at Texas A&M Hillel. It has been filled with friends new and old, learning and laughing all over our various events.

In January, we hosted a Tu B’Shevat sedar to celebrate the trees, fruits and nuts on Earth. It was a wonderful event, which taught many students about the holiday and its significance in the Jewish religion. A few weeks later we hosted a Super Bowl party with Chabad; the theater was packed with students schmoozing and excited over the football game. At the beginning of the semester we also started our monthly Jews with Brews event for of-age Jewish students around campus for a casual way for them to mingle. So far, the event has been a hit every month this semester.

In February, we welcomed high school and transfer students to our annual Aggie Jewish Open House hosted along with Chabad. We gave them tours of Aggieland, brought advisors and Jewish faculty to Hillel for panel discussions, as well as the Jewish fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, and the local Jewish sorority, Zeta Beta Sigma.

Our annual Spirit of Shabbat event took place in March, and we welcomed community members, students, and families from around the Bryan/College Station area. A few weeks later, we held our second part of the Holocaust Survivor Lecture Series featuring Max Glauben. We filled capacity and even had to turn away handfuls of people; to say it was a huge success would be an understatement. We, as well as the attendees, were very moved by Max’s story.

A couple weeks ago, over Parent’s Weekend, Rabbi Matt was installed as the official rabbi of Texas A&M Hillel. Rabbi David Komerofsky of Hillel International, and Rabbi Matt’s predecessor, Rabbi Peter Tarlow, made the transition official. Since the transition took place over Parent’s Weekend, many families were in attendance. It was wonderful to see all of their support in person. That Saturday of Parent’s Weekend, Hillel hosted a brunch for all the families.

During the brunch, the new Student Board President for the 2014-2015 school year, Dan Rosenfield of Plano, was introduced. It was a weekend full of changes and it was great to see Hillel moving in a new direction.

To celebrate Passover, Hillel held two seders for the Jewish community. The first seder, which was open to the entire Jewish community, was a great success. We loved having so many people bring in Passover with us. The second seder, which was open to students only, was held at the Gardner Resort, and was an intimate way for students to celebrate Passover and bond at the same time.

Our final event of the semester, the end-of-year pool party, was a huge hit as well. Fun, food, and friends – what better way to end the school year? We are looking forward to a great fall semester and hope you’ll be with us along the way!

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Rabbi Matt Rosenberg Takes The Reins

by Emily A. Schneider

On Friday, it wasn’t any ol’ regular Shabbat at Texas A&M Hillel. It was a special one indeed. Rabbi Matt Rosenberg was finally installed as the head Rabbi of Texas A&M Hillel. While he arrived in July almost nine months ago, his installation was long overdue. However, that didn’t make the night any less meaningful for those in attendance as well as Rabbi Matt himself.

Rabbi Matt said it was a powerful moment for him to be recognized as the Rabbi of Texas A&M Hillel. Rabbi David Komerofsky, Associate Vice President for Advancement of Hillel International, was in attendance to make the transition from predecessor, Rabbi Peter Tarlow, official. Rabbi Komerofsky gave a light-hearted, yet meaningful speech, which warmed everyone’s hearts and triggered several giggles. Following Rabbi Komerofsky’s speech, Rabbi Tarlow had a few surprises up his sleeve. He gave Rabbi Matt several necessary items as the new Rabbi of Hillel – a backscratcher and a mop. All jokes aside, Rabbi Matt said, “it was very meaningful and it was wonderful to have Rabbi Komerofsky as well as Rabbi Tarlow here to make the transition official.”

Within the nine months Rabbi Matt has been at Texas A&M Hillel, he’s already seen progress. “We’ve doubled attendees in Shabbat, and from what I hear, just the number of programs we’re offering and engaging with students has dramatically grown,” Rosenberg said. “The first couple week I got here we had a few dozen people coming to Shabbat services and dinners, and now we’re over 50 on average.”

But Rabbi Matt doesn’t plan to stop there. He has lots of goals for Texas A&M Hillel, both short-term and long-term. “I want to grow the number of Jewish students on campus. I think we can move from a school that has less than one percent Jewish to a school that has two or three percent,” Rosenberg said. “Working with Rabbi Yossi [Lazaroff] of Chabad at Texas A&M to make kosher food offerings available on campus, working with faculty to create a Jewish studies program, working to have Hebrew as a language, working with system officials to make study abroad in Israel possible – I feel like those four items will allow us to really recruit more Jewish students and grow our Jewish student population – that’s really my focus.” He’s not disregarding Texas A&M Hillel’s current programing and traditions, don’t worry. He might have gotten to College Station less than a year ago, but he knows that traditions are a big deal here. “I plan to continue offering twice a year Birthright trips as well as the great programs we’re offering, while adding some new ones. I would like to offer an alternative spring break, some more Jewish learning opportunities during the week, and we’re launching Aggies For Israel which will provide a lot more Israel programming to the greater campus and community. We’re going to brainstorm after finals,” Rosenberg said.

Rabbi Matt realizes that being the Hillel Rabbi on a campus with such a small Jewish population is a big task. “It’s an honor to be in this role, to be able to serve the campus community, and meet students at this point in their lives, where they’re typically first leaving home for the first time and trying on Judaism for themselves and not the Judaism they grew up with, but figuring out what it means to be a Jew in the modern world, and especially a Jew at Texas A&M which is not your traditional school where we have such few Jews,” Rosenberg said. “I’m truly honored to be in this position and be here because I feel like my work here is so very valuable and so very important.”