Meet Our Students
UMBC Hillel supports Jewish life on campus by creating relationships with students and supporting a variety of student groups at UMBC as well as individual or small-group student ideas and initiatives.
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Interested in getting something started in Jewish life on campus? Let’s talk. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acceptance—that’s what comes to Cheli’s mind at the thought of UMBC Hillel. A senior Chemical Engineering Major and second-year intern, Arussy has enjoyed attending campus Shabbats, coming to nearly each one. However, her favorite holiday with Hillel is Sukkot: “I remember Sukkot this year. I really was having a rough day, and I had made a commitment to come to the Sukkah for an event. I had mixed feelings about attending, but as soon as I walked in, I saw how excited everyone was to see me, and my day was immediately brightened.”
As an Intern, she hopes to help other Jewish students appreciate their religious background more, connect Orthodox students to the campus, and incorporate more Jewish education at events.
When senior English Major Alana Hayes thinks about UMBC Hillel, friendship is top of the list. However, becoming an intern has impacted her more so: “In some ways it’s kind of a shock being a Jewish leader at UMBC because I come from an area that has a very small, practically non-existent Jewish community and here I run Shabbats; I go to orthodox events; I run into Jewish people outside of the gym who ask me about Hillel. I really love Hillel because it’s given me a community here on campus and by working as an intern it’s really made me active in the Jewish community.” During her internship, Hayes wants to play a large role in fostering this growing community for current and future members to enjoy and make connections.
The Fall 2014 Welcome Back Shabbat was the beginning for Michael Daughtery’s experience with UMBC Hillel. “My overall experience with Hillel has been fantastic so far. I feel like a part of the group, and I’ve made great friends. When I think of UMBC Hillel, I think of family,” he says. Though, his favorite event thus far has been Trivia Night Shabbat because it was a lot of fun competing with his friends.
Through his internship with Hillel, he has gained more of an appreciation for other student leaders when it comes to engaging Jewish students on campus: it can be tough at times, but always rewarding. Michael intends to engage more Jewish students, so that they have the chance to be involved with such a wonderful, tight-knit organization.
What most amazes UMBC Hillel’s Intern Coordinator Ben Alkon is the encouraging community: “I never realized how close the Jewish campus was on campus until I saw how supportive everyone was of me while I was studying for my LSAT. Even Jews that I had only interacted with once wished me luck and told me they were proud of my hard work.” Alkon, a History Major, Political Science Minor on the Pre-Law Track, began his journey with Hillel when he could not find kosher matzo for Passover, and happened on to the campus celebration. However, it was only after speaking with Joe Levin-Manning about how meaningful it was to work for Hillel that Ben decided to apply for the Hillel Internship. During his second year as an intern, he hopes to continue promoting a friendly environment for future Jewish UMBC students.
“I wanted to share my birthright experience with others [that’s why I became an intern],” says David Udwin, former Birthright Intern and current Strategic Engagement Intern. That he did and a whole lot more. Becoming an UMBC Hillel Intern opened Udwin’s eyes to the amount of student work that goes into events—its planning, its execution, and (ultimately) its success. After his year as the Birthright Intern during his sophomore year, David still wanted to be a part of this process, so he reapplied as the Strategic Engagement Intern. Now, Udwin works to involve the UMBC Hillel Board with the student body, and he hopes to maintain the current Jewish community at the university in an unintimidating and low-key manner.
Singing karaoke Frozen tunes at last years’ Hanukkah party is not perhaps what a person would associate with UMBC Hillel, but it is Doni Mayer’s greatest memory with the organization thus far. A sophomore Mechanical Engineering Major, Mayer enjoys time away from schoolwork to interact and engage Jewish students on campus. As an intern, Doni appreciates his inside view of planning events because he has gained more respect for other leaders and the process itself. While UMBC Hillel is a relatively small community, he hopes to “continue creating a vibrant and accepting environment for future members, especially for Orthodox students.”
Junior History Major Jon Goldman first got involved with UMBC Hillel because he was looking to make Jewish connections on campus. In fact, he has made many friends at Shabbat: “I met my girlfriend, Sahpir, when we went to a Shabbat last year, and we liked the people and food so much that we went to almost all of them.” Now as an intern, Goldman has the opportunity to create the friendly environment that brought him back to Hillel again and again. He hopes to do so through his Latte and Learning programs, which bring together the community to discuss important global issues, such as the immigration crisis, and their application to Jewish morals.
Junior English Major and Judaic Studies Minor Alexa Kempner first got involved with UMBC Hillel indirectly through the Jewish Student Council (now disbanded) before she even officially began her freshman year at UMBC, “I was invited to a JSU Shabbat in May of my senior year of high school because I had signed up for the mailing list at New Student Day a few weeks earlier. The people and the energy attracted me the most, and made me want to come back in the fall.” From then on, she was hooked. Kempner became the UMBC Hillel Shabbat Intern during her sophomore year, which gave her an appreciation of all the hard work that goes into events. While she is just a student member this year, Alexa hopes to maintain the wonderful friends she met through Hillel and remain an active participant in the organization.
Community: the word that Brian Lassen associates with UMBC Hillel—not just on Jewish scale, but in a broader definition: “Hillel is open to everyone no matter culture, religion or background. At Hillel hangouts you can bring friends and everyone accepts them like they have been at Hillel events before. At ABQ, students walk past asking questions and Hillel offers them a seat to have a discussion and food. I feel like other organizations on campus don’t openly accept people like that to their events.” Lassen, a senior Information Systems Major, has enjoyed attending Hillel Shabbats since he transferred to UMBC from AACC. The friendships he has made during his time with UMBC Hillel are what keeps him coming back to events, and is something he will miss when he graduates in the spring.
“A super, super, super senior taking the scenic route to graduating in December 2016 with a mathematics degree,” Lily Glashakow-Smith has been an instrumental student member of UMBC Hillel—so much so that she refers to herself as an “unofficial intern.” However, that just goes to show how much Hillel has meant to her during college. UMBC’s Interfaith Center serves as second home to her. Watching UMBC Hillel Executive Director Cara Behneman and Director of Engagement Lesley Levin work with passionate dedication to promote an animated Jewish community influenced her decision to participate on the UMBC Hillel Board as a Student Ambassador. Nevertheless, the community aspect of UMBC Hillel remains most important: “Identifying as LGBT, having a community that is accepting in the home of my religion is incredible. My entire friend community is pretty much through Hillel, and that is sufficient. More than sufficient. My Hillel family, always with room for more, is also always whole.”