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November 21, 2013 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-21

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for college students by college students

Connecting, Growing

Jewish Student Organization at Kalamazoo College reaches
out on campus to Jewish groups in Michigan.

Claire De Witt } jewish@edu writer


his year, our Jewish Student Organization
(BO), a long-standing student group at
Kalamazoo College, has been working to be
more connected with other Jewish student groups
across Michigan as well as utilizing the resources
available to us to create the best experience possible.
To this end, we have been working with the
Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM), based
at Michigan State University Hillel, on upcoming
programming, and have been receiving guidance
and funding to help run a successful Jewish student
group on campus. Kalamazoo College is small (just
more than 1,400 students), with a small, but growing
Jewish population.
Although our student group is small, this only
makes it easier to form close bonds with all of the
members. Leading the group has been a great experi-
ence for me. I've been able to run many events and
get hands-on experience with all kinds of programs.
I enjoy being involved in my Jewish community, and
JSO has allowed me to meet students of all kinds of
Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, expanding how
I see Judaism.
We are excited to present our students with a vari-

ety of opportunities this year, including our upcoming
Chinese dinner and movie night. Additionally, several
of our members work closely with the college's
Interfaith Council, allowing us to explore interfaith
opportunities on campus. Being active members in
this group has allowed us to participate in insightful
conversations about religion in a small college set-
As our term draws to a close, we are preparing
for another quarter of dynamic programs, including
our widely attended Passover dinner, celebrations
for Purim and Tu B'shvat, and Israel-focused events.
Additionally, we are exploring the possibility of bring-
ing a Holocaust survivor to campus to speak at our
annual Yom HaShoah event. We also are working
on connecting with our nearby peers at Western
Michigan University.
We look forward to growing and expanding Jewish
life at Kalamazoo College. If you are a Jewish student
interested in getting involved in our group, visit us
online at http://h-cam.net/k-college/registration . @

Claire De Witt of East Lansing is a senior at

Kalamazoo College.

At Kalamazoo College: junior Arik Mendelvitz, Oak
Park, Ill.; alum Craig Isser, Commack, N.Y.; senior
Claire De Witt, East Lansing; senior David Schapiro,
Ann Arbor; sophomore Jordan Meiller, Ann Arbor; senior
Jennifer Tarnoff, Chicago; and sophomore Maddie
MacWillians, Newton, Mass.

Growing Hillel

Dedicated student at Saginaw Valley State University
assembles programming and support for new group.

Mimi Marcus } Jewish@edu writer

Tabling: Junior Lily Lerner, Midland; juniors Mimi Marcus
and Jaimmie Koss, both of Southfield; and sophomore Lily
Brown, Mason.

y favorite question my parents asked
on every college tour I participated in
was, "Is there a Hillel?" The response
was always the same: "A what?"
In the fall of 2011, I was headed to Saginaw
Valley State University, a campus where I hardly
knew anyone, where there were very few Jewish
students and where many people had never met a
Jew before.
Before leaving for school, I contacted Robyn
Hughey, assistant director of the Hillel Campus
Alliance of Michigan (HCAM based at Michigan
State University Hillel, and we met for lunch to dis-
cuss the possibility of starting a Hillel. Our meeting
concluded with the plan for me to head to school
and scout for Jewish students on my campus.
My first year was a rough one. It was my first
time being outside the West Bloomfield bubble,
where I was surrounded by many Jewish people.
I met students who were pro-Hitler, who would
show their pride for him around me. Instead of
being upset, I turned this into a positive experi-
During my sophomore year, I organized and
started the Hillel@Saginaw Valley State University.
That following summer, I participated in a Taglit-
Birthright Israel trip with HCAM and MSU Hillel. I
returned to campus with knowledge on Israel and
programming, and was excited to make Hillel@
SVSU stronger and more effective.
Now, in my junior year, Hillel@SVSU currently


has a following of both Jewish and non-Jewish stu-
dents interested in learning about our culture and
practices. While still small compared to other uni-
versities, we have grown tremendously in the past
two years and recently became the 10th university
to join HCAM.
Our upcoming programs include Shabbat din-
ners, an 8 Crazy Nights Chanukah Party, a tabling
program called Show Me Your Gelt, and a lunch-
and-learn at a local synagogue.
Additionally, we are looking forward to an
upcoming program with the Anti-Defamation
League (ADL). Heidi Budaj, ADL Michigan regional
director, will present information to our student
body regarding hate groups in Michigan. Afterward
will be a dinner and discussion for our Hillel group
focused on promoting safety and education for
Jewish students.
Hillel@SVSU is still in the beginning stages of
growth and development, and I am excited to be
leading such a dynamic group of Jewish leaders.
I hope that in the coming years, Hillel will
spread our knowledge and love of Jewish culture
to the university, and that we will be able to create
a safe, fun environment for all students on campus.

Mimi Marcus of Southfield is president of Hillel®

SVSU and a junior at Saginaw Valley State

University in University Center.

November 21 • 2013


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