The team at KU Hillel has established several Shabbat experiences to connect with the Jewish students on campus. On April 14, the KU Hillel Israel Engagement Interns hosted an Israel themed Shabbat Brunch. The Shabbat Brunch experience is one of the most successful Shabbat programs, reaching many students who do not otherwise engage with KU Hillel. Last week, the brunch spread featured Israeli food and drinks, decorations, music and dancing in addition to our traditional brunch menu of bagels and lox.
“Shabbat brunch is my favorite Shabbat program at Hillel. It’s always so laid back and exactly what I need on a Saturday morning,” Jonathan Bush, senior at KU Hillel said. “Including the Israeli brunch foods made this brunch even better. You can’t beat falafel in the morning.”
These students are all looking for more ways to incorporate Israeli culture into their lives before and after their Israel experiences. By providing an Israel Shabbat, we are making the Israeli culture more approachable and accessible for our students.
“It is very important to continue creating opportunities for our students to experience Israeli culture while in the United States,” Leah Swartz, program director at KU Hillel said. “It is one thing to have an amazing Birthright trip. It’s another to find ways to continue celebrating that experience once it is over.”
In order to connect with all students, KU Hillel has always embraced a pluralistic mindset. For the Israel programs, Hillel works with the AIPAC and SSI chapters and the Jewish National Fund intern on campus. Students who participate in these groups come from a range of different political and religious affiliations ensuring KU Hillel creates an open and welcoming environment for all students.
“Israel plays such an important role in our lives as Jewish adults,” Swartz said. “It’s key that we continue to foster those relationships at KU Hillel and provide opportunities for our students to continue forming their opinions and relationships with a country so many of us refer to as home.”