Home Community Hillel at VCU is engaging students

Hillel at VCU is engaging students

Hillel at VCU’s Executive Director Joel Bond (far right) leads a group of undergraduate and graduate students in the first program of the year, Reverse Tashlich.

Years in the making, Hillel made its way back to Virginia Commonwealth University over the summer to provide space for Jewish students to explore their Jewish identity.

By Joel Bond, Executive Director, Hillel At VCU

With over 1,300 Jewish students, VCU should be a place for Jewish students to feel welcome and they deserve a plethora of options to build Jewish experiences. That is where Hillel at VCU comes in to play. We envision a world where every VCU Jewish student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel.

As a new organization, Hillel at VCU has hit the ground running by engaging dozens of students in relationship-building and programs related culture, the High Holidays, and Israel.

We kicked off our year with Reverse Tashlich by re-imagining the traditional Tashlich ritual. In partnership with Tikkun HaYam, our group symbolically removed our transgressions from the water by cleaning up the waterfront at Belle Isle.

Part of this program and the ethos of Hillel at VCU is embedded in embracing the spirit of Tzedek, translated to righteousness, fairness, or justice.

Student engagement and leadership is at the heart of Hillel at VCU’s approach. We believe that Hillel, specifically, and the Jewish campus experience, more broadly, should be student-led and staff supported.

We have embraced student leaders from the start and are excited to have a fully formed and functional student executive board that leads our efforts as a student organization at VCU.

Led by our student leaders, an exciting monthly program, titled Flavors of the Diaspora, provides an opportunity for students to cook foods from diverse Jewish cuisines and to learn about the vibrant cultures across the Diaspora.

Our theme for November’s Flavors of the Diaspora is the cuisines and cultures of the communities of Ethiopia and South Africa, as well as learning about the history of Jewish communities across Africa.

Hillel at VCU strives to create meaning and Jewish community for Jewish students. Whether through Tzedek, cultural programing, Shabbat dinners, or holiday observances, we provide a unique backdrop of students to build Jewish connection that goes beyond the classroom.

We encourage students to explore and understand their Jewish identities. By offering engaging programs and engaging Jewish students where they are at, Hillel at VCU helps students foster a greater sense of Jewish pride and togetherness.

We want to build more than another Jewish organization. We want to build a home away from home for Jewish students. As we continue to grow throughout our first semester on campus, we will make sure that no Jewish student feels alone.

Learn more about Hillel at VCU by visiting us at vcuhillel.com or by emailing Joel Bond, our Executive Director, at joel@vcuhillel.com.