2018-01-03 / Voice at the Shore

An inspirational end to 2017

HILLEL HAPPENINGS
RACHEL WALDMAN
Hillel and Young Leadership Director, Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties

Students active in Stockton’s Hillel ended the year feeling inspired after a series of particularly fun and successful events. From Shabbat dinners to large-scale campus events, students were excited to interact with new and familiar faces.

In November, Hillel’s student board welcomed over 40 students to its monthly Shabbat dinner. Although the dinner was held on campus, all food was generously provided by Seashore Gardens Living Center in Galloway. The menu featured Italian food, which was a big hit with the students. Everyone loved the baked penne, and the homemade brownies were a special treat for hungry students.

By necessity, Shabbat blessings were done in an unconventional way—which had everyone laughing. Because of campus open-flame restrictions, blessings for the Sabbath lights were recited over two flameless electric candles that were switched on rather than lit. Likewise, the blessing for the wine was said over grape juice, given that most students are not of drinking age. Nevertheless, board members led the blessings and explained the rituals, which everyone was glad to partake in before beginning their meal together.


With exams starting the day before Chanukah began, Stockton’s Hillel held an early celebration, allowing students to break from their studies to enjoy latkes, donuts, gelt and a white elephant gift exchange. With exams starting the day before Chanukah began, Stockton’s Hillel held an early celebration, allowing students to break from their studies to enjoy latkes, donuts, gelt and a white elephant gift exchange. The dinner was a big success. Board members were especially touched by the reaction of two female students who came to the dinner simply because they had smelled the delicious Italian food. These students truly appreciated the opportunity to take part in Shabbat, and made a point of thanking board members for the experience when they left. They also said they had texted their Jewish roommate to tell her about the experience and to encourage her to come to future Hillel events. Perhaps this was beshert: The roommate didn’t know about Stockton’s Hillel before receiving their text and was excited to find out more about it!

Another big success for Hillel was the annual Student, Faculty and Staff Dinner. Started 33 years ago by Hillel, this dinner offers students a unique opportunity to socialize with their professors and other Stockton staff members.

“It all started with Hillel!” said Gail Rosenthal, director of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center and original advisor to Hillel at Stockton “The idea first came about when students wanted to reach out to their teachers and staff around Thanksgiving time to thank them for helping them throughout the school year,” she noted. “The annual dinner is an example of the importance of Hillel on campus, how it is supported by the university, and how the tradition will continue for years to come.”

The Student, Faculty and Staff Dinner is now sponsored not only by Hillel but also by the Student Senate, the Campus Religious Council, and the Office of Student Development. It provides students with a wonderful opportunity: Each may invite a professor or staff member who has had a positive impact on their time at Stockton to join them for dinner. It is an ideal time for chatting and bonding.

The event has become quite popular. This year, hundreds of people attended! Everyone enjoyed a Thanksgiving-style meal of turkey, stuffing, green beans and pie, and a kosher dinner station was also available.

Dr. Yitzhak Sharon served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, as he has since the dinner began 33 years ago. Dr. Sharon, a much-beloved professor at Stockton, is a Weinstein Professor of Jewish Studies as well as a physics professor. He is also one of two Hillel advisors on campus, along with Dr. Marcia Fiedler. Notably, Dr. Sharon was one of the founders of Hillel on Stockton’s campus decades ago, along with Gail Rosenthal.

With exams starting the day before Chanukah began, Hillel chose to celebrate early, with a Chanukah party on November 28, shortly after the end of classes and well before exams began. Students got to take a break from studying to enjoy latkes, donuts, gelt and a white elephant gift exchange.

Hillel is now looking forward to a great spring semester after students return from winter break. 

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