What’s Happening on Campus: Welcome Week Edition



September 12, 2023

Colleges and universities across the country welcomed new and returning students to campus this month. Enjoy this snapshot of programming for first-year students and beyond at Hillels all the way from Florida to Arizona.

Florida State University

Students gather for bonding and snacks at FSU Hillel’s Kvetch Sesh

When Hurricane Idalia disrupted move-in and welcome plans for students beginning and returning to Florida State University (FSU), FSU Hillel provided a safe and dry space for students to meet each other and settle into the semester. At FSU Hillel’s spontaneous Kvetch Sesh, complete with bagels and snacks, students had the opportunity to share excitement for the new school year, worries about the impact of the storm, and overall, had fun getting to know each other. 

University of Connecticut

First-year students and upper class mentors on a fun trip to Six Flags

University of Connecticut Hillel’s (UConn Hillel) annual FYSH (First Year Students of Hillel) program pairs first-year UConn students with an upper-class mentor to help them adjust to college life. This year’s FYSH Fest welcomed 22 first-year students to campus before the semester began. In addition to fun at Six Flags, roller skating, and a scavenger hunt, students dove into deep discussions on Judaism, academic goals, and life in general. Edina Oestreicher, Executive Director of UConn Hillel, shared, “We’re so excited that we could give them a taste of the fun, warm, and welcoming community Hillel has to offer, and most importantly, introduce them to their home away from home in Storrs.”

Syracuse University

First-year students at Syracuse University spending time together at FreshFest

FreshFest at Syracuse Hillel, a pre-orientation program that helps first-year students connect with each other and settle in on campus, welcomed almost 300 students this year, making it the largest pre-orientation program on the University’s campus. As the High Holidays approach, the energy from FreshFest carries through into programming and services, such as delicious holiday meals, social justice programs like Reverse Tashlich, and more, designed to make Syracuse Hillel feel like a home away from home for all Jewish students. 

Binghamton University

Students getting to know each other at Hillel at Binghamton’s FreshFest and Welcome Week

In addition to also hosting their own FreshFest, Hillel at Binghamton welcomed students from all years to a week of fun that included charcuterie making, a barbecue, a birthday party for all the summer birthdays, and a welcome-back Shabbat. As Emi, Class of 2024 shared, “We kicked off the school year in style. I can’t wait to see what Hillel at Binghamton has in store!”

Arizona State University

First-year students settling in at ASU Hillel’s Welcome Brunch

To welcome first-year students to campus, Arizona State University Hillel (ASU Hillel) hosted over 130 guests for a Welcome Brunch that included delicious food and opportunities to  learn about all that ASU Hillel has to offer, including Shabbat programming, weekly snacks and chats with Hillel staff members, and High Holiday meals and services. Parents and students attended respective welcome Q & A sessions. Rabbi Suzy Stone, the Senior Jewish Educator and Campus Rabbi, spent time with the students so they could start to get to know her from day one! 

Later in the week, over 200 students filled the ASU Hillel building for the first Shabbat of the year, which featured musical services, communal Shabbat meals, and time to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.