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August 23, 2002 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-23

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Away From

Michigan Hillels provide the

comfort, traditions and

companionship of the Jewish

communities students leave behind.


Special to the Jewish News

hen Caro, Mich., native
Jennifer Stotter began her col-
lege quest three years ago, she
was looking for a school offering
more than the right academics, size and
sports. She was in search of a campus with a
positive Jewish environment and a Hillel she
could call home.
That's what Michigan State University's
Hillel has been for her, Stoner said. Right
from the start, when she met the program
director on her first visit, Stoner has felt wel-
come at the Hillel in East Lansing: Now,
instead of traveling 75 miles to Flint to inter-
act with her Jewish peers from high school,
Stoner finds herself surrounded by a new
group of people she calls "family."
"One of the reasons I went to MSU was
for the Jewish community there," she said.
"The Jewish community is about the right
size for me — it's growing, but it has more of
a family feel because there aren't a thousand
people every Friday. Each Friday, we have
more people and everybody gets to know each
Offering social activities and learning •
opportunities, programs offered by Hillel: The
Foundation for Jewish Campus Life at schools
like MSU, Western Michigan University,
Wayne State University and University of
Michigan sponsor everything from Shabbat
dinners to hayrides, and create an atmosphere
where students can socialize and explore their
At MSU, Hillel hosts more than just
Friday night services and dinners for many of
the estimated 2,000 Jewish students on cam-
pus. Programs include Torah study, Habitat
for Humanity, scavenger hunts, movie nights
and political activism.
Said Stotter: "Whether it's learning more
about Israel or learning how to bake challah
for Friday night — Hillel just provides a lot of
opportunities for students to gather, socialize
and learn in a comfortable environment."
In September of last year, ground was bro-
ken at 360 Charles Street for MSU's new
Lester J. Morris Hillel Student Center. Now


Good friendships
emerge at campus

To : Jeffrey Lazor
of Farmington
Hills, Elizabeth
Beresh of West
Bloomfield and
Judah Sand of
Lansing at MSU.

Middle: Miriam
Gormezano of West
Bloomfield and
Melissa Ellstein of
Southfield at Hillel
of Metro Detroit.

Bottom: Tzachi
Rosenberg of West
Bloomfield and
Christy Thomas of
Southfield at Hillel
of Metro Detroit.

ready to serve students, the Hillel includes
meat and dairy kitchens, two chapels, a stu-
dent computer lab, lounge space and a gam-
ing area with pool and foosball tables.
Shira Weinstein, the MSU Hillel program
director, said the new student center will
make many additional activities possible for
"It's going to allow us to do a lot more pro-
gramming that our students want," Weinstein
said. "And having the building smell like
Shabbat on a Friday afternoon makes it so
meaningful to those people who really want
to get into the spirit of Shabbat — that's
something students have really missed."
Stoner said she looks forward to the MSU
Jewish community.expanding further and sees
the new Morris Hillel Student Center as cen-
tral to that growth.
"I think the new building and all the
excitement that comes along with it will bring
in more people — it's a stable environment
for students to come to and come home to,"
she said.

Western Michigan University

Being away from home at Western Michigan
University encouraged junior Aaron Beals of
West Bloomfield to get involved with Hillel
programming as a way to meet other Jewish
students on campus and beyond.
"Especially at Western where there are few
Jews, (Hillel) allowed me to be with other
Jews by taking part in national conventions
and joining up with other Jewish students on
Western's campus," Beals said.
Students involved in Hillel at WMU,
located in Kalamazoo, can take part in
Shabbat dinners, holiday programming and
activities ranging from apple picking to camp-
ing. Beals, the vice president of Hillel last year,
said he has enjoyed helping coordinate various
activities, such as Havdalah (Shabbat-closing)
services, bowling and community service.
He added that he would like to see a Hillel -
House built on campus to give Jewish stu-
dents a base and a place to congregate. The
approximately 60 students involved in Hillel
programs currently find themselves meeting
around campus and at program director




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