Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life has joined with Jewish organizations the world over in helping the people of Haiti. In a message to Hillel directors, Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone wrote:
"Once again the world is gripped by the sight of untold numbers of desperate people confronting an unfathomable natural disaster. We are proud of the immediate and generous response of the global humanitarian network, the United States, Israel and the Jewish community.
"As an international movement Hillel wishes to support those Jewish agencies with the experience and infrastructure to respond most effectively to the people of Haiti. The three most prominent of these are the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Jewish World Service.
"We encourage local Hillels to cooperate with these organizations, other reputable international aid agencies and local campus partners to support Haiti at this difficult time."
Here are a few of the Haiti relief programs taking place through local Hillels:
Many Hillels are conducting fundraising drives and supply collections, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Rutgers, and University of Southern California which is matching students' donations to dollar for dollar. Rutgers and other schools are participating in vigils sponsored by their Haitian student organizations and other groups.
Stony Brook Hillel, through its Interfaith Center, is part of the Campus Response Team. Those efforts include: providing support for Haitian students and students of Haitian descent whose families are affected; coordinating the collection of funds through a series of collection boxes across campus and fundraising events; coordinating collections of food, clothing, and other items when shipping them becomes feasible; holding a campus memorial service coordinated with several student groups.
As part its campuswide effort to raise funds for disaster relief in Haiti, Tulane Hillel is heading up a "Challah for Haiti" project in which students will bake and sell challah every week. Tulane's dining service provider, Sodexo, is donating all the ingredients and the baking space. The Hillel is working with different campus groups and departments -- including Residential Life, International Student Association, and the Jewish Studies Student Group -- to reach a fundraising goal of $5,000. The University of Florida Hillel is also conducting a Challah for Hunger drive for Haiti.
At Boston University Hillel, 200 students attending Shabbat dinner included a special moment of remembrance in the evening program. At Greater Portland Hillel, students added a prayer about Haiti to their Tu B'shvat Shabbat. "Not only was this the first Shabbat that some of our students ever celebrated, our prayer for Haiti helped new people to know that Judaism is deeply concerned about global justice," says Managing Director Rachel Hall.
For an overview of the Jewish community's effort to help Haiti, visit JTA and eJewishphilanthropy