Welcome to a New Year at Rutgers Hillel!
By Alex Hamilton, Class of 2016
Rutgers Hillel Student Board President
Energy-filled. Awesome. Spectacular. This year is going to be all these things and more. We have a rock star new board. They’ve told me their plans for the upcoming year, and it’s going to be a year to remember.
First-year students are moving in later this week. I remember when I first started at Rutgers, what an inspiration all of the Hillel student leaders were to me. I remember my mom dropping me off in my hot, sweaty dorm room, and all I could think about was getting to Hillel. I grew up in Oklahoma where there aren’t so many Jews, and I wanted to make new Jewish friends. I went to everything during my Welcome Weekend in 2013: Friday night services, Shabbat dinner for new students, the oneg later that night, Saturday morning services, Shabbat lunch, Seudah Shlisheet, havdallah, and concluded the weekend with the opening BBQ. Welcome Weekend 2015 includes all of these events, and it’s happening this weekend! This is a great opportunity for new students to meet our student leaders, and our student leaders are looking forward to welcoming and greeting all the new students! Please click here to RSVP if you’re a new student who plans to come for Move-In Shabbat, this coming Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29.
Looking back on my opening Shabbat, I didn’t know where to go or what to expect. The first time I saw our Hillel Director Andrew Getraer at services, I thought he was a professor. Now, we talk classic rock and ways to improve Jewish student life on-campus. He even taught me how to eat caviar at an Israel Bonds dinner. During announcements that Friday night, Andrew, who I then found out wasn’t actually a professor, told us about the future Hillel building and showed us the images of what our new home would look like.
Flash forward two years later, and the Topping Out Ceremony for our new building is planned for Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 1 PM. Having never been to one of these before, I don’t fully know what to expect, but I know it shows the progress the builders have made on the Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House. It is crazy to me that the pictures Andrew showed us are the design that’s being used to make what was just a parking lot into our home, and this spring it will be a reality. I am proud to represent the Hillel family as Student Board President when we open our new home.
Many of the people I met at my first Hillel Shabbat dinner and oneg are still some of my closest friends today. Over Shabbat, other students told me about the opening Hillel BBQ, and I was excited to bring my freshman roommate with me and introduce him to new people. As a Southerner, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to BBQ, so I was a little surprised because it wasn’t actually what a nice Southern boy like me would call BBQ. Delicious hamburgers and hotdogs are grilled meat, no matter how good they taste. Okay, movin’ on y’all.
The opening BBQ for me was a great time to reconnect with all the friends I had just made. You can get a chance to meet new friends or to hang out with your old ones at our opening BBQ on Monday, August 31, 4-7pm at Brower Commons Plaza. It’s free! Bring your friends! There you can meet all the awesome board members and find new, fun ways to get involved in this incredible Jewish community. There will also be lots of free swag. Click here to learn more about the Rutgers Hillel Welcome BBQ and Jewish Activities Fair.
I’m also really excited for the first Shabbat dinner of the year in the Brower Commons Faculty Dining Room, which will be on Friday, September 4. We are working to add new delicious food options. Every year the anticipation of this first Shabbat is huge — People haven’t seen their friends in months, everyone is on campus, all of our amazing Birthright trips are back and reuniting after an amazing trip to Israel — For all of these reasons and more, the number of students there will be astounding. This is a great opportunity to meet the rest of the Jewish community at large.
Soon you will read about Welcome Week, planned by my good friend, Sami Brandspiegel, this year’s Hillel Student Board Vice President. Our Welcome Week events include cool programs that are great ways to get involved. Hillel offers lots of ways to get involved, from community service to social events, from Israel programming to events for the religious communities at Hillel.
I’m super pumped for this sweet new year. I am so excited to meet all of you and get the good times rolling! Shana Tova U’metukah! Wishing you a Good and Sweet New Year!