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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hillel Hotlines Have Sick Students Covered

by Hillel News | Dec 7, 2015 |

It's easy to miss home when you’re sick at school.

Did you know that many campus Hillels have a solution? Hotlines that deliver Jewish penicillin — chicken soup — to sick students. Although the names vary (Jewish Penicillin Hotline, Better Than Bubbie’s, Chicken Soup for the Sick, Chicken Soup Hotline), the concept is the same. The services — found at The University of Chicago Hillel, Michigan State University Hillel, Brown and Rhode Island School of Design Hillel, Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh at University of Pittsburgh and University of Michigan Hillel, to name just a few — remind students and parents that Hillel is a home away from home. Watch Penn State Hillel's Jewish Penicillin Hotline in action below!

Members of Michigan State University (MSU) Hillel prepare soup delivery packages.

Mimi Marcus, MSU Hillel’s engagement associate, delivers soup to Sara Langnas, a senior there.

Deborah Mills-Scofield, a parent of a University of Chicago student, recalled how she was able to surprise her son, a freshman suffering from the flu. She knew matzo ball soup would help but could not find a restaurant that would deliver the curative concoction quickly enough. Mills-Scofield emailed UChicago Hillel and within hours a bowl of soup was delivered to him, complete with a message from mom. “What a terrific service! It was such a relief to me and such a wonderful surprise to Josh. Wish Hillel had had this when I was in college,” she said.

Students at Michigan State University (MSU) don’t even have to hop out of bed to order their soup. They can order on their phones using MSU Hillel’s app. Ordering via MSU Hillel app simplifies the process, making it easy to get soup when you need it the most, said senior Max Rosen. “MSU Hillel’s soup delivery service, Better than Bubbie’s, is great because when you’re sick all you want to do is rest…[i]t’s wonderful that MSU Hillel offers such an important service to help students who are sick and stressed."

Jonnie Rozin, a sophomore at MSU, agreed. "I love MSU Hillel's matzo ball soup. It is so nice to order Better than Bubbie’s and have it delivered right to your front door when you are sick. MSU Hillel is basically my Jewish mom away from home.”

Talia Rueschemeyer-Bailey, a committee member at Brown RISD Hillel, with a Jewish Penicillin Hotline delivery.

The students who run Brown RISD Hillel’s Penicillin Hotline even add sick day necessities like tissue packets and Hillel branded ChapStick. "It was a no brainer to get involved with this, you're doing chesed and the students are so grateful when they open the door," said Sarah Joffe, a student coordinator.

"Everyone remembers the first time they got sick away at school, it's not fun! At home, chicken soup always makes me feel better, so I love the idea of providing that for my friends and others on campus,” added fellow Hotline staffer Allison Rosenbaum.

Brown RISD students aren’t the only ones grateful for these soup services. Said Marlo Klorsein, "Hillel provided warm chicken soup for my daughter, and it was such a comfort to me as a father. Atlanta is just too far away, so I am so grateful that they can provide this service."

Sarah Gans, vice president of tzedek at Brown RISD Hillel, poses with a big pot of soup.

Whoever says laughter is the best medicine hasn’t tried matzo ball soup. But don’t take our word for it. Find out if your (or your child’s) Hillel has a soup delivery service. In the meantime, check out a behind-the-scenes video of Penn State Hillel’s Jewish Penicillin Hotline in action.

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