Here’s a run-down of some of the biggest stories in Jewish student life:
Freedom of Speech? Or Freedom to Interrupt a Speech?
On February 8, 11 students at the University of California, Irvine were arrested for heckling Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren while he was delivering a speech. As Orange County Hillel helps Irvine students deal with anti-Israel sentiment on campus, Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone advocates for the right of pro-Israel speakers to be heard. Check out insightful analysis and discussion of the incident on JTA here, at Inside Higher Ed here, and by Alan Dershowitz for the Jerusalem Post here.
Defending Israel, Maple-Leaf Style.
To the north and over the border, Canadian universities have seen a recent surge in pro-Israel activism. Across Canada, Jewish students are planning programs for the week of March 1-7 to respond to “Israeli Apartheid Week.” The campaigns will aim to demonstrate Israel’s cultural, scientific, and technological accomplishments while responding to anti-Israel attacks.
Snowmaggedon: School’s Out, Judaism’s in!
Campuses across the east coast were shut down early February due to record-breaking levels of snow, but Jewish life naturally kept on going. Read about it at Hillel’s website.
Latke vs. Hamentash: The Debate Rages Online
Just in time for Purim, University of Chicago Hillel has put online videos of the last five years of its annual latke vs. hamentash debate. These hilarious forums feature top scholars using their highly trained academic skills to prove the primacy of the latke or hamentash. Viewers will see world-renowned experts on everything from Assyriology and business administration to medicine and linguistics debate the relative merits of baked versus fried, poppy seed filling versus apple sauce toppping. And don't get them started about sour cream.
A Month of Ideas
As part of an online series called “28 Days, 28 Ideas,” Graham Hoffman, Hillel’s Associate Vice President for Strategy, and Dan Libenson, the executive director at Newberger Hillel Center at the University of Chicago, penned a piece in which they propose a new way of attracting Jews to Jewish programming. Learn more about it on JTA and be sure to read the other 27 ideas here.
Post-Taglit-Birthright Israel: The Results Are in
As Jewish students across the country returned from their winter break trips to Israel with Taglit-Birthright Israel, The Houston Chronicle ran a piece at the end of January that featured the reactions of Houstonian Jewish students.
Warming Up to Jews-Who-Do-Not-Seem-Quite-Like-You
New Voices, a Jewish student magazine, recently ran a blog post by Columbia University student Carly Silver reflecting on relations between observant and non-observant Jewish students on campus.Jewish life at Kent State University has taken a noticeable turn for the better with the completion of the state-of-the-art, $3.2 million Cohn Jewish Student Center. The sprawling, 11,000 square-foot residential-style facility features WiFi-friendly student recreation areas, large meeting rooms for community gatherings, a laundromat, and the only commercial-sized kosher kitchen in Portage County.
Jewish Life Thrives at Kent State in New Cohn Center
Bonus Feature: Jewish Life Is in the “House”
Moishe House, which offers programming to 20-something year-old Jews, has been around for a few years now, but they’ve apparently reached the big time — making the front page of the New York Times website on February 10. Be sure to check out this very interesting profile.
With contributions from Hillel Communications intern David Meyer, a first-year student at the University of Maryland.