This was the third year that my roommates and I hosted SHAG in our apartment – how time flies! I invited new and old friends from Hillel and classes. Hillel provided challah, chicken, and grape juice, and everyone brought a dish to share. We had kugel, green beans, potato waffles (like latkes, but in waffle form!), and lots of other delicious food. As always, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough food, and as always, there was more than enough (yay leftovers!). We lit the candles, blessed the wine, and ate. Everyone who came knew someone, but no one knew everyone, so we went around the circle and did some cheesy icebreakers. What’s your name? What good thing happened to you this week? Everyone met someone new and had a chance to reconnect with old friends.
In college, it can be easy to lose sight of Shabbat. We have books to read, papers to write, programs to code. But I’d like to suggest that the intensity of our schedules makes celebrating Shabbat even more important. Whether we mark the new week with a prayer, a nice dinner, or even a run, taking time to reflect and relax prepares us for the work ahead.
Wa-Jew Class of 2015
Since that first event we have participated in a number of other activities that have allowed us to make even more connections. We tie-dyed shirts, picked apples at Carter Mountain Orchard, and most recently went on a sunrise hike on Humpback Rock. I also cannot forget to mention the acclaimed Bagels on the Lawn every week, which an increasing number of first years have been attending. I honestly did not know what to expect out of Hillel, but I have gotten more excited with every event.
As a first year representative, I have also had the opportunity to get more first years involved-- whether that be through promotion of events or just talking to people about what they are looking to get out of Hillel. About two weeks ago I had an idea to organize a first year dinner at one of the dining halls in order for people to get to know each other outside of a Hillel-sponsored event. The turnout wound up being great and there were even a few new faces. This past week we also had our first year retreat and first year movie night, which both went extremely well and seemed to make everyone enthusiastic for the rest of the year. It has been a great experience getting to know my fellow WaJews and I am excited to continue this journey during the next four years.
Wa-Jew Class of 2018
This year's Sleepout was a huge success. Roughly 15 people slept out the first night, and about the same number of students slept out the second night. This year, JSJC was able to purchase three large tents using funds allocated by Student Council. This helped to provide sleeping accommodations for more students, as well as promote the Sleepout cause by having bigger, more visible tents in the Amphitheater. Even with rain the second night, the students toughed it out and stayed throughout the event.
Apart from sleeping out, events were held in the evenings of Oct. 5 and 6. On Oct. 5, there was a speaker from PACEM, a acoustic concert performed by members of O-Rec, a dinner-discussion moderated by sustained dialogue, and a movie showing held outside in the Amphitheater. On Oct. 6, there was a speaker from Families in Crisis, the annual WaJew BBQ followed by the annual interfaith dialogue (hosted by the Jewish Education Initiative), and a game of kickball led by the Jewish Social Connection.
Sleepout is an ongoing initiative, and JSJC can't wait to get out next year for Sleepout's 10th anniversary. Thanks to everyone who helped make Sleepout happen this year!
WaJew Class of 2016
This past summer, Jake gave me a set of CDs with an example of the chanting for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. I used these to study all of the prayers I needed to learn for services. I made playlists for each of the services that I had to learn and would listen to the playlists on repeat to familiarize myself with the services.
In the final weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I ramped up my practicing schedule and worked with Whitney and Jake to make sure we had every service covered. On the days of the services, Whitney and I traded off leading, and everything went very well. We had a few hiccups in the first couple of services, but by Yom Kippur everything went very smoothly.
Leading services was an experience that I will take with me forever and never forget. From this point on, I will be able to lead the Kol Nidre service and other parts of high holiday services! I hope to use this knowledge in the future and pass it on to others.
Wa-Jew Class of 2015
That’s why I’m glad that I did this hike for two big reasons. First, to complete a big part of the UVA experience. Second, to really get a chance to bond, not only with members of the JLC, but with other Jewish First-Years, at well. Nothing bonds people more closely than struggling up a mountain together and enjoying a beautiful sunrise. I can’t wait for more events designed for us First-Years because I know that they’re going to be awesome!
Wa-Jew Class of 2018
For more information about how to get involved with First-Year activities, contact Sam Magnes or Zak Krooks.
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.