November 21, 2017

Photo by Matthew Alfasso

More and more students are heading to University of Southern California Hillel each week in search of snacks and a renewed sense of gratitude.

#SCBlessed is a new campaign launched this semester at USC Hillel. Inspired by the Jewish tradition of saying 100 blessings a day, USC Hillel Foundation Program Manager and Ezra Fellow Nora Greenstein set about reinterpreting this tradition for a new time and place–the college campus in the 21st century. #SCBlessed is both an in-person and online experience, with events around campus and an active Facebook page.

The Ezra Fellowship is supported in part by the Maimonides Fund.

Greenstein is asking students to reflect seriously on what they mean when they joke about being #blessed. There is research to suggest that expressing gratitude improves one’s mood and makes one happier.

Weekly #SCBlessed events around campus give students–both Jewish and non-Jewish–a chance to nosh on snacks and talk openly about the positive notes of their week. The Facebook page is refreshed regularly, sharing blessings and Jewish prayers to help students remember to always look on the bright side of life.

A contemporary college student’s day is overflowing and overcrowded, and USC Hillel wants to remind everyone on campus of the importance of being grateful. When students stop in for #SCBlessed, they discuss a Jewish blessing and how they may be able to apply it to their own lives.

Student Blake Ackerman looks forward to the weekly opportunity to reflect. “In college it’s really easy to take the little things for granted. We forget that some people wish for the strength in the morning to get up and live healthy lives. We are blessed with the opportunities to create, experience and coexist amongst one another.”

Students who attend #SCBlessed events say they have noticed a change in their attitudes and report specifically that they are feeling more self-aware and happy.

Student Robby Feffer is a frequent visitor to Hillel and counts #SCBlessed among his favorite programs. “At first it was just a nice time to hang out and have a snack or two, but ever since my school work has started increasing I’ve really appreciated having a positive space I can go to to destress and reflect,” Feffer said.

Blake Ackerman said he believes the program has changed his own perspective: “Remembering how blessed I am may not be so easy when I’m stuck in the library after midnight, but it’s something I try to carry with me and #SCBlessed has help me do that.”

Student CJ Wechsler agreed. “On Thursday afternoons, I finish class at 2 p.m. and start again at 4 p.m., and SCBlessed is the only way I want to spend that gap. Every week, I check Facebook to know where Nora and her noshes will be. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the blessings of my life in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.”

–Jennifer Korn