Over the break, 65 students traveled to Israel with Hillel at UVA for their Birthright experience. The two busses explored the country together, visiting historical sites, learning about Israeli culture, and discovering their connection to Judaism.
Highlights of the trip included a Jeep tour in the north of Israel, an overnight stay in a Bedouin community, and a visit to the Western Wall. We're so excited for students to deepen their connections to Judaism and to one another on Grounds this semester!
Below are photos from the trip from both busses
This year before Lighting of the Lawn, Jewish students worked together to throw the first every "Eight Crazy Lights" party to share the traditions and joys of Chanukah with their peers.
The event team, led by intern Sophie Mariam (21'), wanted to help Jewish students at UVA feel represented during the holidays and to share their traditions with the community. Eight Crazy lights included an indulgent latke bar, sufganiyot, Chanukah sweater decorating, dreidel games, and a preview performance of the renewed Jewish A Capella group Hootzpah. So many students and community members came out to celebrate with the BJC before the Light show and we are proud of our students for pulling off such a wonderful night!
For the second year in a row, the Tikkun Olam Committee participated in Habitat for Humanity's "Rake-a-Thon" to raise money for the organization. More than 25 students- TOC's biggest team yet- gathered together one Saturday morning to form the JLC team! Students spent the day raking (and playing in) leaves while getting to know one another. It was so much fun to watch students meet new people and spend the day listening to music and doing something good for their community together.
Every year Habitat for Humanity awards a "Golden Rake" to the team with the most participants. Co-Tikkun Olam Intern Chloe Suzman ('21) is determined to gather an even bigger team next year to make sure TOC wins the coveted Golden Rake!
Fourth Year Seminar is designed to engage current Fourth year students in meaningful conversations about how to incorporate Judaism into their post-grad lives. Staff and students discuss topics such as where to find a Jewish community, battling loneliness after college, maintaining self care practices, finding love, establishing values, how to negotiate in careers, and much more.
This year's Fourth Year Seminar kicked off with a Jewish Mixology Course using Jewish culture-inspired recipes by Jeffrey Yoskowitz of The Gefilteria. They were such a hit, we thought you'd like to give them a try!
Seeded Rye Cocktail:
1 oz whiskey
1 oz caraway syrup
1 squeeze of lemon juice
lemon twist for garnish
(For the syrup)
In a non-stick pan, toast the caraway seeds over medium heat, stirring often, until brown and fragrant, but not burnt. In a small pan or bowl, stir together the boiling water and the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour in the toasted caraway seeds. Stir and let steep until cool. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the seeds, reserving the syrup. Store in fridge.
Place all ingredients except the lemon twist in a rocks glass. Add 1 ice cube and stir, garnishing with lemon twist.
Celery Collins Cocktail
2 oz gin
1 oz celery syrup
5 oz seltzer
(For the syrup)
Stir together boiling water and the sugar until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Add the seeds, stir, cover, and let steep until cool. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer, Pour into a jar and store in the fridge.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber slices, reserving one for garnish. Fill the shaker with ice and pour in the gin, syrup, and lime juice. Shake vigorously until cold. Pour into a glass with ice and top with seltzer, garnish with cucumber.
Sheryl grew up with a strong Jewish foundation, from Hebrew school to high school youth groups, so it was only natural that Hillel at UVA became a large part of her college life.
After getting involved through family friend Daniel Novick (JLC President 2011-2012), Sheryl was an active member of the Hillel at UVA community and even served as the Jewish Leadership Council President from 2014-15.
When asked about the most meaningful experience she had with Hillel at UVA, Sheryl talked about the annual tradition of Shabbat 300. What she loved most about the event was how great it was to organize an event of this scale with other Jewish organizations at UVA. To her, it was a great community effort that she was happy to be involved with over het four years in Charlottesville.
Sheryl's favorite memory of UVA is a full story, and a really great one.
Sheryl met Ben Edgar in a friend's dorm as a first year. When being introduced, their friends mentioned that they were both Jewish, to which Sheryl replied- "My mom would approve of us getting married."
"I proceeded to ask him if he wanted to come with me to Hillel, and he had no idea what it was."
That's where they had their first exchange of numbers. They took a bus to the BJC and the rest was history.
A few years later, Ben planned a surprise proposal in Charlottesville that ended with an engagement party- at the Brody Jewish Center - with some of their closest friends. Their wedding weekend also included a rehearsal dinner in the BJC social hall.
"Hillel has been pretty important in our relationship every step of the way."
Sheryl and Ben live in Arlington with their dog Pumpkin.
Sheryl says that even now she is pretty active in terms of Jewish life, whether that be hosting or attending One Table Shabbat dinners, Moishe House programs, or even events and services at congregations around the area.
We asked Sheryl to share with us something she is proud of. At the end of October this year she completed the Marine Corps Marathon! She never considered herself very athletic, but a few years back some friends encouraged her to start running, and now she's here!
"It was lots of training and I really committed to it and i'm genuinely proud of myself!"
We are grateful to have an alumna like Sheryl in our community who frequently supports our fundraising campaigns, programs, and alumni events!
On Friday evening, over 150 students and community members came together on the South Lawn to enjoy a Shabbat service and dinner while in the beautiful fall weather. Co-Religious Life Intern Sama Crouch led the group in a shabbat service in front of Old Cabell Hall. Before the Shabbat meal, Hillel Advisory Board Chair Zack Szlenzinger reflected on the one year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting and spoke of the beauty in celebrating Shabbat on the Lawn with pride one year later. Even as the sun went down, students and staff enjoyed conversations and reflection leading into the weekend.
Hi guys! My name is Matt Gillam and I am a rising third year from Long Island, NY studying Leadership & Public Policy in the Batten school. This summer, I am interning at the International Chamber of Commerce’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations as a Public Affairs & Policy Intern. A super long-winded title, I know. Basically, I work to engage private sector partners with the UN to leverage business as a positive force for sustainable development.
Throughout my internship, I have gotten to work in a small office of experts on global development policy, international diplomacy and finance. Our team has wide ranging experience and expertise that is crucial to furthering the United Nations’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or as we call them, SDGs. I have learned so much about the inner workings of the UN, writing policy briefs and talking points, and planning small sessions for C-suite level executives to have productive dialogues about business-led sustainable development. I have also gotten to explore Manhattan – a city I could be looking for a job in just two years from now. Getting to experience professional life here has been important for me as I look down potential career paths.
Hillel has taught me to embrace the wide range of perspectives that people can have, even within the same age and faith. This mindset has served me well at the United Nations, as I have worked with people from across the world- France, the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, and Brazil are just some of the more recent ones. As I begin to wrap up my internship, I am constantly seeking to be exposed to as many cool things as possible and am absorbing as much advice as possible.
Exploring Manhattan one oat milk latte (see photos) at a time has been an incredible experience, but I cannot wait to get back to Charlottesville in just 12 short days!
Hi! My name is Sophie Ritt and I am a rising Fourth Year at the University of Virginia. At UVA I am studying Psychology and Elementary Education.
While in Israel I am interning with the women’s empowerment organization, El Halev. El Halev strives to reduce gender-based violence through martial arts and self-defense. Although their hub is in Jerusalem, El Halev holds self-defense classes throughout Israel and around the world.
This summer I have been working as a Madricha for El Halev’s summer camp, as well as helping with administrative work. At the camp, Israeli and Arab girls from Jerusalem learn martial arts and self-defense in a safe and positive environment. I have been given the opportunity to teach a jazz dance class for the campers as well. This is very significant to me as I have always loved dance and it has been so amazing sharing this passion with my campers. One of my favorite moments at the camp so far was catching a few of the campers practicing the dance I taught them during their free time!
I am so grateful to Onward for giving me the opportunity to work with such a special organization. El Halev welcomed me with open arms and I truly believe that the work they are doing is incredibly important and impactful. Although I feel like the end of the summer is rapidly approaching, I know that I will always have a home at El Halev.
My name is Grant Campion and I am a rising third year from Norfolk, VA studying Public Policy and Environmental Science! This summer, I'm participating in the Onward Hillel Tel Aviv program and am lucky enough to be living and interning in the city. My internship is with Goodvision, the Corporate Social Responsibility branch of Grant Thornton Group. Through my work, I have gained incredible insight into international consulting and corporate sustainability. I am fortunate enough to go to multiple meetings, conferences, and luncheons with clients around Tel Aviv and truly experience the "global market".
I live with three other UVA students (Jackson Moser, Nir Diskin, and Matt Mandel) and our typical days include going to the beach, discovering new restaurants and coffee shops, exploring the Shuks (markets) and, traveling around Tel Aviv and Israel!
My favorite day in Tel Aviv so far was two Fridays ago, when I woke up early to go to the Old North Farmer's Market, met some people at the beach, then headed to a rooftop sunset event with new friends from our program. We ended the party with a nice dinner on the famous Rothschild Avenue!
My favorite Onward programming experience thus far was definitely traveling to Gush Etzion where we discussed the ongoing conflict with both Israelis and Palestinians.Hearing from both sides is an invaluable experience and gives a much clearer perspective as to how the conflict actually impacts citizens on a day-to-day basis. The rest of our day in the West Bank was spent hiking and visiting a famous bakery that employs both Israelis and Palestinians.
If anyone has any more questions about daily life, the onward application process, or needs recommendations for Tel Aviv, please don't hesitate to reach out!
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,800 Jewish students on Grounds.