Ganzeh Galus Guide: Jewish Revival in the Deep Diaspora

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36 Things A Small Hillel Might Do

For more ideas from Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Life International Center, download its SoReference Kit, on the Soref page of their site. The SoReference Kit is designed to help you create and foster a vibrant Jewish community on campuses served by the Soref Initiative. Hillel International Center's Soref page also includes additional information on national conferences, scholarships, grants, Brandeis Collegiate Institute training and other resources.

  1. Elect a Student President, a Student Board and a Faculty/Staff Committee and have lots of meetings.
  2. Start a Shabbat morning minyan, for prayer, Torah reading, Torah study and pot-luck lunch.
  3. Organize a High Holiday service in the style to which you would like to become accustomed.
  4. Build a Sukkah, organize a Hanukkah party, or run a campus Seder. Have a Purim party, write a Purim spiel or run a shaloch manos food drive or read the whole megillah or dress up in costumes and drink until you can't tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Plant a Tu-BShvat tree. Plan a special minyan or a lil shimurim (study session).
  5. Have a bagel brunch.
  6. Make Hillel a central site for information about activities of Jewish interest on campus and alert local institutions -- including campus groups, Mid-East Center, Chabad, Kol Ami, JCC, Federation, Interfaith Council and Westminster of our existence as a clearinghouse for information to students. Create a list of courses of special interest to Jewish students on campus (click here for an out of date listing). Publicize adult education classes sponsored by Beis Menahem, Kol Ami, the JCC, Har Shalom and others. See if there is interest in other courses not currently offered by the University.
  7. Help organize Holocaust Memorial Week.
  8. Organize an American Jewish (or Israeli or Yiddish) film festival.
  9. Organize campus affiliates of Kesher, the Reform students' organization or Koach, the Conservative students' organization. Hillel has recently been sent copies of the national Koach newsletter, which includes articles, study opportunities, conference announcements and funding opportunities. Contact Hillel for a copy or subscribe by writing to Richard S. Moline, Koach Director, 180 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago Il 60601.
  10. Invite a speaker -- could be local or West Coast academics; co-sponsoring a talk with Impact Series, Kol Ami or Habad; on Jewish texts, on ethical/political/moral issues, on history, on literature/culture. Or a fiction writer or a klezmer musician or dancers or politician or activist or comedian or the Jewish Healing Center. Send a Hillel representative to the Mid East Center's committee that invites speakers of Jewish interest to campus or to Federation's Impact committee that schedules events for the whole community.
  11. Send representatives to conferences (academic/young leadership/social/religious) out of town. Hillel, the Reform movement, the Conservative movement, UJA, Bnai Brith and others have national and regional and young leadership conferences or kallot. See our web page for listings of some upcoming ones, or call for more.
  12. Learn to bake Jewish onion rye and pumpernickel bread or reinvent cholent or join with the Scandinavian Students Association to write a history of lox and smoke some too or petition Brueggers to carry bialys and onion boards. Or join National Hillel's World's Largest Matzoh Ball Project.
  13. Put on a performance of "The Creation: The Musical" with, or for, one (or all) of the local Jewish schools (or other religious schools).
  14. Teach a course, for kids or adults, on a topic of Jewish interest, or volunteer to help at one of the local Jewish schools.
  15. Have a Shabbat dinner. Or organize a shabbaton and bring in a rabbi or a speaker from University of Judaism or Hebrew Union College or Graetz College or elsewhere for a retreat and study day.
  16. Go as a group to Israeli dancing at the JCC (or to ski Alta, Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City, Snowbird, Solitude, The Canyons, or ...). To go directly to the Daily Snow Conditions Report from Ski Utah (the Utah Ski Association), click here.
  17. Join the Hebrew language lunch table discussion, Fridays at noon. Or go to Israel for a mission or a Winter Break or a semester or a year or on aliyah. (Hillel receives mailings on various opportunities in Israel and can direct you to others). Or spend a summer studying Yiddish at the Oxford Institute for Yiddish Studies.
  18. Create a special assembly program for the children in Kol Ami's religious school, the Utah School for Jewish Studies, the JCC school, or the general community.
  19. Have a cook-out and minyan in the mountains.
  20. Sponsor a competition or a teaching session to create artistic ritual objects -- kiddish cups or groggers or anything else.
  21. Learn trope. Here's another source for learning to chant Torah.
  22. Organize a teach-in or intensive study session on a text or a topic. Or start a local class based on one of the Internet courses offered by Koach, the Jewish Theological Seminary or Project Genesis. Or attempt to organize a Beit Midrash on campus in connection with Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning. Or bring in a speaker, perhaps with help from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture or from the University of Judaism or HUC-Jewish Institute of Religion Los Angeles.
  23. Fund raise for Federation/UJA, or the New Israel Fund, or the campus Jewish community's programming or to convert a frat row building to a Hillel House, or the Marriott Judaica collection, or the Law School's Jewish Law collection or a local charity working with local poverty issues, or to buy one of the old synagogues and convert it into a settlement house.
  24. Have a klezmer party and dance until we drop. Here are some Jewish music resources.
  25. Sponsor hevruta Talmud study pairs or a once a week Talmud study breakfast.
  26. Pursue justice with or without Tzedek Hillel.
  27. Form a new organization, ask for reactions from the existing organizations and have a meeting to discuss the meaning of tolerance, unity and diversity in the Salt Lake Jewish community. Or sponsor a debate on the role of nationalism in ethical Judaism or whether a traditional Jew can believe in God or whether Halacha forbids a Jew to vote for [pick your least favorite Israeli or American politician] or whether law school is preferable to medical school or whether Rosa Luxemburg/Mordechai Kaplan/the Gerer Rebbe has the appropriate approach to the Jewish tradition or whether it is more neutral to force everyone to follow Orthodox or Reform rules or whether the intolerant are tolerable or whether every attempt at a joke necessarily will offend someone. Or talk about the problems of secular-religious relations with Gesher.
  28. Find 49 arguments why shrimp are kosher (and meet one qualification for serving on the Sanhedrin).
  29. Have a Biblical psycho-drama session and act out the Akeda, or David and Batsheva; or make it more contemporary and do the Occupation of Low Library at Columbia University or the organization of the ladies garment workers.
  30. Visit Clarion, Utah's own defunct Zionist/Socialist "kibbutz".
  31. Put on an amateur production of the Dybbuk. Or bring the San Francisco professional production -- by A Travelling Jewish Theatre -- here.
  32. Organize a Yiddish songfest and teach the West High Chorus some real Jewish songs. Or learn the songs of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda.
  33. Learn about Jewish roots using the local genealogy center or the genealogy and history resources and exhibits of The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora or the Jewish Genealogy or Avotaynu Jewish Genealogy Publishers sites.
  34. Form a reading group to read an easy-Hebrew (or not so easy) novel. Or stay up all night arguing about the essays of Ahad HaAm in translation, or work through them over a trimester in the original (they are readable with 2d year Hebrew and a dictionary).
  35. Assist the local Jewish oral history project interview or create a new project in collaboration with national institutions, such as the Center for Jewish History or the National Foundation for Jewish Culture or the N.Y. Tenement Museum. Or visit some of the superb Jewish history exhibits on the net, starting with Beit HaTefusot -- The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora and its links or the Center for Jewish History (formed by the American Jewish Historical Society, the Leo Baeck Society, Yeshiva University's Jewish Museum and YIVO).
  36. Organize a Laugh for Life Jewish humor show with KUER or next year's Hanukkah Arts Festival. But see #27: do it very seriously.

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