On Monday, September 15, Aggie Students Supporting Israel was officially launched with an evening event featuring three incredible speakers. Student Body President Kyle Kelly gave a wonderful talk about his own love of Israel and his two trips to the country. While our keynote speaker Congressman Bill Flores had to return to Washington D.C. a day earlier than expected, his deputy district director James Edge relayed Congressman Flores’ words of support for Aggie Students Supporting Israel. Finally, we heard from Lisa LeBourgeois ’12, the social media coordinator and executive assistant for the Consul General of Israel in Houston about the need to advocate for Israel on social media and among students’ peers.
We also got great press for the event, The Battalion covered our kickoff event with a front-page story on Monday! It was an amazing first event for Aggie Students Supporting Israel. To stay up-to-date about Aggie Students Supporting Israel, join the Aggie Students Supporting Israel Facebook page.
We’re excited to announce our winter free Taglit-Birthright Israel trip for Jewish Aggies! Registration is now open for the trip which will take place during A&M’s winter break. The trip is completely free except for airfare to the departure airport, probably JFK in New York.) The small deposit is completely refunded following successful completion of the trip. Register now at FreeIsraelTrip.org and sign up for a free trip to Israel with your fellow Jewish Aggies! Whoop!
Thanks to support from Hillel International and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Hillel at Texas A&M has been blessed with a visitor, an experienced Israel Fellow named Shira Prigat who spent two years working at Hillel Montreal in Canada. Shira’s timing could not have been better for she arrived just minutes before the start of MSC Open House, where we tabled to obtain support for our new student organization, Aggie Students Supporting Israel. During the two weeks Shira is in residence at Hillel, we have the first board meeting of Aggie Students Supporting Israel along with our kickoff event with Student Body President Kyle Kelly, the office of Congressman Bill Flores, and a representative of the Israeli Consulate in Houston. During her time in College Station, Shira has been busy assisting student leaders in getting Israel programming up and running and has been lending her expertise to a plethora of students on how to best advocate for Israel on campus. We’re going to say goodbye to Shira next Friday with a special Israeli Shabbat! Thanks to the success of Shira’s presence, the entire Aggie Hillel team is hoping that a full-time Israel Fellow at A&M could be a possibility!
Texas A&M Hillel hosted more than thirty Jewish high school students from throughout Texas for a unique recruiting event on Friday and Saturday, September 5-6. Thirty-one Jewish students from Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and other communities throughout Texas spent the weekend in Aggieland learning about the growing Jewish community and enjoying a Aggie football game.
Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp provided Texas A&M Hillel with complimentary tickets to the A&M-Lamar football game held on September 6 to be used to recruit high school students to visit Texas A&M. This generous gift led to the creation of a weekend devoted to recruiting high school students to visit Texas A&M. Word quickly spread of the event thanks to social media and support from Dallas and Houston Jewish federations and dozens of applications were received.
The high school students arrived at Hillel on Friday night, September 5 and participated along with current Jewish Aggies in lively musical Shabbat services at Hillel followed by a delicious kosher turkey dinner. Dinner was followed by a discussion panel on Israel and game night. Friday evening was topped off with a trip to the recently renovated Kyle Field for the traditional Midnight Yell. Overnight the students stayed with local student hosts.
On Saturday, the day began with a presentation on admissions with a campus recruiter. That was followed by brunch, a campus tour, and a tailgate event with Sigma Alpha Mu, the Jewish fraternity on campus. Then students watched the Corps of Cadets march into Kyle Field and then took their seats for the A&M vs. Lamar football game, which was unfortunately delayed by two hours due to weather. After the game, the students returned to Hillel for a late night havdalah ceremony concluding Shabbat, thus ending their immersion to Aggieland.
For those who missed this weekend, there will be another opportunity to visit Aggieland and the Jewish community at Texas A&M. Aggie Jewish Open House will take place February 13-14, 2015 in conjunction with the campus-wide open house called Aggieland Saturday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
With Rosh HaShannah coming up soon, 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.)
- 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, 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 – 9 a.m.
- Saturday, October 4 – Yom Kippur afternoon (yizkor/mincha/neila) services – 6 p.m.
- Saturday, October 4 – Break the fast dinner – 7:42 p.m.
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.
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.
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.