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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified of special events for incoming students. Have a great summer!
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!
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.”
Local PBS affiliate KAMU produced a special hour-long program on “Jews of the Brazos Valley,” which can be viewed online on YouTube. The show features interviews with Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, Rabbi Peter Tarlow, Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff of Chabad, former student prime minister Sarah Herstein, and other local notable Jewish community members. It’s worth a watch for the stories of the Jewish community in the Brazos Valley are fascinating!
Dallas-area Holocaust survivor Max Glauben, grandfather of current students Alec Becker and Delaney Becker, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Memorial Student Center on Wednesday, April 9. Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Coordinator Veronica Beskin invited Glauben to speak and Hillel sponsored the event for the campus community. The event was well-covered by local media and garnered articles in The Battalion and The Eagle. The Battalion provided a preview of the event, which helped to increase the crowd. Unfortunately, more than thirty students had to be turned away from the event as the room capacity of 300 had been exceeded. This is the second in a series of Holocaust lectures sponsored by Hillel, in which we hope to bring a survivor to speak to campus each semester. For next fall, we will locate an even larger venue.