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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 Stories” 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.

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.   

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2014: A Year in Review

A message from Rabbi Matt Rosenberg:

Howdy!  As I look back on the year that is nearly over, I am in awe with all that has taken place at Hillel.  I’d like to point out a few highlights:

  • Hosted 32 Shabbat services and Hillel-cooked dinners for students, with average attendance of anywhere from 40-60 students, including themed Shabbatot like Challah-ween, Chinese New Year Shabbat, PJs Shabbat, and Fiesta Shabbat.
  • Launched Aggie Students Supporting Israel, the campus student-led Israel advocacy organization, which has its own amazing list of accomplishments – representing A&M at the AIPAC Policy Conference for the first time, hosting a student leader dinner about the importance of Israel to more than 50 student leaders from across campus with Congressman Flores as the keynote speaker, and sending the largest campus delegation to AIPAC National Summit in Dallas!
  • Brought Holocaust survivors Al Marks and Max Glauben to campus with hundreds in attendance at the MSC.
  • Created Challah for Hunger, a student-run charity that bakes and sells challah to support hunger-based organizations.
  • Taught Judaism though weekly Torah breakfasts, Love & Sex in Judaism class, special classes about holidays, and by bringing in a Torah scribe to teach about his craft.
  • Recruited future Jewish Aggies through Aggie Jewish Open House (in partnership with Chabad, Sigma Alpha Mu, and Zeta Beta Sigma), an Aggie Jewish Football Weekend, and high school recruiting fairs throughout the state.
  • Hosted musical and innovative High Holy Day programming that not only included a delicious break-the-fast meal after Yom Kippur but also a visit to the campus honeybee laboratory in honor of Rosh HaShannah.
  • Sponsored two free trips to Israel through Taglit Birthright Israel (May and December).
  • Hosted Passover and Tu b’Shevat seders, a plethora of Sukkot events, a Simchat Torah dance party, and our Pre-Hanukkah Hanukkahpalooza party. 
  • Socialized with frozen yogurt nights, comedian Rachel Bloom, Jews with Brews for the 21+ crowd, running in the Messina Hoff 5K, the G-d Cup interfaith touch football tournament, welcome back BBQ and brunch, beginning and end of the year pool parties, and a Superbowl watching party with Chabad.

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Aggies in Washington D.C. (and Israel)

This winter break two Jewish Aggies are doing their part for the U.S.-Israel relationship. Freshman Amanda Katsman and sophomore Dan Rosenfield are attending and presenting at AIPAC’s Saban Leadership Seminar in Washington D.C. At the seminar, more than 400 of AIPAC’s top student activists from over 140 campuses participate in four days of intense political programming and advocacy training. During Saban, students interact with leading Washington policy makers, Middle East experts, and AIPAC Leadership Development professionals.

Following his time in Washington, Dan Rosenfield will be traveling to Israel to participate in AIPAC’s Advanced Advocacy Mission to Israel. AIPAC’s most intensive leadership development experience, the Advanced Advocacy Mission is open only to students who have previously traveled to Israel. Leading policy makers and opinion-leaders engage undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing careers or community leadership positions in the fields of Israel advocacy, public affairs and policy formulation. Mazal tov and gig ‘em to Amanda and Dan on their amazing work on behalf of Israel at Texas A&M!

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Hanukkahpalooza Draws Dozens

Jewish students at Texas A&M celebrated the end of the school year with a giant pre-Hanukkah party called Hanukkahpalooza during finals week. Over 40 students attended the party on Saturday night, December 13, three nights before the first actual first night of Hanukkah.

“We wanted to make sure that we held a party for Hanukkah that would attract the greatest number of students possible,” said Veronica Beskin, Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Coordinator, “and so we picked a Saturday night during the weekend break of finals, because Texas A&M does not have finals on Shabbat or on Sunday.”

The party included hundreds of latkes, singing of traditional and parody Hanukkah songs, dreidel playing and a make-your-own edible dreidel dessert bar complete with kosher marshmallows for the body of the dreidel.

“Hanukkah is a joyous holiday, one that every Jewish student loves so we wanted to celebrate before everyone rushed home after finals,” said Dan Rosenfield, Hillel’s student board president, “and tonight was a great turnout and a lot of fun!”

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Over 450 Attend Survivor Talk at MSC

Over 450 students and community members attended Houston-area Holocaust survivor Al Marks’ talk in the Memorial Student Center on December 3. Despite the proximity to finals, hundreds of students turned out to hear Mr. Marks’ story of survival. The half-hour talk by Mr. Marks was followed by nearly an hour of articulate and insightful questions from the audience. Originally from Rákoscsaba, Hungary. Mr. Marks was sent by train to to Auschwitz where he pretended to be older to survive four work camps. An only child, Mr. Marks’ parents were murdered at Auschwitz. Mr. Marks was liberated in May of 1945. Mr. Marks, who learned to play accordion by an elderly German woman at a displaced persons camp, partially credits music with his emotional recovery from the intense horrors he was forced to overcome.
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Holocaust Survivor Series on December 3

Join us for the third session of the Holocaust Survivor Lecture Series presented by Texas A&M Hillel on Wednesday, December 3 at 6:30 p.m. in room 2300 of the Memorial Student Center. We will be joined by survivor Al Marks, who is originally from Rákoscsaba, Hungary.

Mr. Marks will be sharing his story of how he survived the Holocaust. After being sent to Auschwitz with his parents, he was quickly separated from his family, and never saw them again. Mr. Marks survived four separate concentration camps, until his liberation in May of 1945. Mr. Marks, who learned to play accordion by an elderly German woman at a displaced persons camp, partially credits music with his emotional recovery from the intense horrors he was forced to overcome. After arriving in New York in 1947, Mr. Marks moved to his current home in Houston, Texas.

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Student Leaders Support Israel

On Monday, November 10, dozens of student leaders from across Texas A&M were invited to a first-ever student leader dinner to learn about the importance of Israel. Congressman Bill Flores addressed the student leaders, which included the captain of the volleyball team to the president of College Republicans. The event was planned and hosted by the student board of Aggie Students Supporting Israel.