Thursday, May 6, 2021

Hillel connects Jewish students to traditions, beliefs 

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Hillel Club allows students to stay connected with their beliefs or family traditions from home.

Hillel is a cultural club offering a sense of community for Jewish students. It’s the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. It partners with over 500 colleges in North America and internationally.

Hillel is actively involved with the Temple Beth Israel congregation that’s located near the Plattsburgh State Field House. Hillel students sometimes attend religious services at the temple such as Shabbat and Passover Seder.

“The temple welcomes our Hillel students with open arms,” Hillel adviser, Jonathan Slater said.

Slater has been the Hillel advisor for over a decade and is also a director of both the Jewish studies program and the institute for ethics in public life. The purpose of the club is to cultivate the qualities of engaged, committed and ethically responsible citizens within students.

Rabbi David Kominsky of the Temple Beth Israel is the co-adviser of Hillel and teaches intro to Judaism at Plattsburgh State.

During club meetings, the members of Hillel have faith based discussions about Jewish related news, Judaism, Jewish life and culture.

“It’s a space where students can come together and celebrate who they are as Jewish members of the community and beyond to share their different traditions in that faith and have a fun time as well,” Hillel President Daniel Kellaher said.

Kellaher is part Jewish and part Catholic. He is also the treasurer of the Newman Association, an interfaith student organization on campus.

Hillel collaborates with other clubs to host events or plan activities. They recently went apple picking at Rulfs Orchard with members from the Newman Association.

In May 2017, someone posted anti-semitic and racist flyers throughout campus a week before Holocaust Rememberance Day. Arin Cotel-Altman, the president of Hillel at the time, took action by organizing Study Break for Solidarity, which was a moment of silence at Amity Plaza. More than 100 people gathered to stand in silence against this act of hatred.

Members of organizations such as Black Onyx and Alpha Epsilon Phi attended to show support.

“Everyone has a helping hand,” Kellaher said.

Hillel also sponsors the Birthright program which provides Jewish students the opportunity to go on a free trip to Israel. Some students from Plattsburgh States’s Hillel have had the chance to attend the educational experience.

“Being the Hillel adviser has probably been among my favorite things to do on campus outside of my faculty duties,” Slater said.

Slater also described himself as the “Kibbitzer,” which is a yiddish term for someone who offers advice.

Hillel does outreach events such as tabling at the involvement fair as well as staying active with their Facebook group and Instagram account.

The club meets in meeting room six of the Angell College Center every other Monday at 8 p.m.

 

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