She sits in her kitchen in Delray Beach, knits her grandchildren blankets, and tells them to meet other "nice, Jewish kids." This fall, Hillel student leaders at the University of Central Florida decided to take their admirations for their grandmothers to the next level.
"Make Bubbie Proud," a welcome campaign conceived by UCF junior Amy Schwartz, sought to seize the attention of UCF's notoriously apathetic campus in Orlando, which enrolls an estimated 4,400 Jewish students.
"I wanted our kickoff campaign to be eye-catching, provocative and somewhat shocking. When I was flipping through a design magazine, I came across an image of a very tacky old granny, and the idea dawned on me: 'Make Bubbie Proud,'" Schwartz said.
Bubbie was branded onto T-shirts, fliers, shot glasses, posters, newspaper ads and, on the crux of the campaign, a 10-foot-long banner featuring a life-size version of Bubbie, which hung over the entrance of the student union for the duration of the first week of the semester.
The campaign created a buzz on campus and throughout the Jewish community in Central Florida, where it received top billing in the Heritage: Florida Jewish News. The Central Florida Future, UCF's campus paper, also featured the campaign and Hillel's kickoff events in a story during the first week.
While Central Florida Hillel has only been formally established for five years, the young Hillel organized an impressive slate of kickoff events during the first two weeks of fall, including an all-day welcome back fair, a "freshman feast," a cheesecake sampling, a comedy Shabbat, a Havdallah barbecue, a ice cream social and a hookah night. Each event's attendance topped well over 100 students, and the cheesecake sampling event was CFH's largest-ever at nearly 250. The last event scheduled, "I Love the Nineties" Shabbat, was postponed due to Hurricane Frances, which blew through Florida during Labor Day weekend.
"We are proud of the programs we had for welcome week. They served as a great way for students to become familiar with Hillel early in the year, so they don't feel intimidated or overwhelmed by all the new changes in their lives," said Jason Harris, a UCF sophomore who chaired the kickoff programming this summer.