Get Involved

Israeli comedian Noam Schuster-Eliassi performs at Harvard HillelHow can you "do" Jewish at Harvard Hillel?

Harvard Hillel, Harvard's hub of Jewish life, is a pluralistic, non-denominational organization, which means we don't believe there's just one right way to "do" Jewish.

Things may be a little different this year, but robust Jewish life at Harvard is still here for you to enjoy. Read through our programs and see what appeals to you. Not seeing something you like? Have an idea for a new program? We love that! Email Assistant Director Jaime Drucker, who can help you make your Hillel programming dreams a reality.

Below, you can explore some of the ways that we "do Jewish" at Harvard Hillel, including several upcoming events in the first few months of the semester.

Ways to Get Involved!

Arts and Culture

SPORTS
Harvard Jewish Sports Initiative (HJSI) plans events centering around the intersection of Judaism and sports. One such event brought Chaim Bloom, Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox, to campus to speak.

Upcoming Event:

A Conversation with Bruce Pearl, Coach of Auburn Tigers

Thursday September 9th at 6:30pm EDT

 

Contact: Ben Rabinowitz '21

 

LGBTQ
BAGELS is Harvard's group for bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans, and queer Jews, their friends, and supporters. We sponsor events that foster a BGTLQ Jewish community on campus, and increase awareness about both religion and sexuality. There's no rush to define yourself, or to jump into any activity. We welcome people at all stages of their Jewish and/or Queer journey.

 

Contact: Rebecca Thrope '22

 
JEWISH WOMEN'S GROUP

Jewish Women's Group is an informal discussion group for Jewish women at Harvard. We usually meet around Rosh Hodesh (the start of a new Jewish month) to have themed conversations over crafts and snacks. Past topics (and crafts) have included female friendship (candle making), eating disorders in ultra-Orthodox communities (decorating journals), Jewish feminist political representation (watercolor painting), and more! All undergraduates identifying as women are welcome.


This semester we'll be meeting over Zoom roughly once a month to connect as a community and strengthen our relationships with each other and with our Judaism. Snacks and crafts will be up to you, though I'm happy to give suggestions if you want. (Trader Joe's cheddar rockets and coloring books go well together!) Mark your calendars now: our first meeting will be on September 21 at 8pm! We'll get to know each other and do some group reflection on the New Year and this crazy world we find ourselves in. Be on the lookout for an email over the Hillel list with more information, including the Zoom link. We look forward to meeting you all! :)
 

Contact: Diana Myers '21

 

ARTISTS OF ALL KINDS!

Are you a theater lover? The next Picasso or Marc Chagall?

Connect with other performing and visual artists. Reach out to Jaime@hillel.harvard.edu

 

Upcoming Projects

JARTS Boston Brighter Connected

BRIGHTER CONNECTED will bring the light of Hanukkah to 8 Boston-area neighborhoods through works of art created in partnership between a local artist and a community/ies

 

Goals:

  • Share the light of Hanukkah with thousands of viewers through public art and create a relatable and educational Jewish experience for all

  • Use the art making process to explore the themes of Hanukkah with students, seniors, families, and young adults across the area

  • Provide meaningful connections and alleviate loneliness for participants

 

Hanukkah is months away, but proposals due September 15!


Interested? Email Jaime@hillel.harvard.edu

 

COVID SPEAKER SERIES

Harvard Hillel has been fortunate to be able to share discussions with some of Harvard's and our world's top thinkers and doers with our community including President Larry Bacow, Provost Alan Garber, Supreme Court Justice Breyer, Jill Lepore, and more.

For information about upcoming events, please join our email list.

Holidays and Spiritual Life

RABBIS, CLERGY, AND MINYANIM

 

The Orthodox Student Minyan (OSM) is a warm and loving group that offers social, religious, and intellectual programming and community for undergraduate students at Harvard.

 

See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about observant life on campus.

 

Interested in OSM? Reach out to:
Rabbi Dani Passow dani@hillel.harvard.edu  and/or Clergy Intern Avital Habshush avital@hillel.harvard.edu

Learn more about Rav Dani and Avital here.

 

The Reform Community is the primary hub for progressive Jewish spiritual life on campus. This group is designed to be accessible to all, regardless of Jewish education, prayer, ritual or Hebrew literacy or halakhic (Jewish legal)/conversion status. We hold weekly Shabbat gatherings, High Holidays, Hanukkah, Passover, and other holiday events, regular social and cultural events, and opportunities to explore spirituality and express the Jewish connection to social justice through programs and advocacy opportunities.

 

Interested in the Reform Community? Reach out to:

Rabbi Jenn Queen jenn@hillel.harvard.edu
Learn more about Rabbi Jenn
here.

 

The Student Conservative Minyan (SCM) is a student-run minyan with services that are egalitarian and traditional in nature. We are dedicated to principles of egalitarianism (ensuring people of all genders feel included and supported in all aspects of Jewish ritual) and traditional Jewish observance. Services are conducted mostly in Hebrew, following the Conservative Movement's siddur (prayerbook) Lev Shalem. All genders are encouraged to participate equally. SCM meets for services on Friday nights and often on Shabbat morning and afternoon, as well as holidays. Shabbat and holiday services offer opportunities for spirited davening (praying), with singing and dancing. In addition, SCM organizes learning and social programming for the undergraduate community, including holiday parties, study breaks, and get-togethers. Please be in touch! SCM actively tries to foster student leadership and Jewish learning. We will be glad to help teach those interested in learning to lead services, read Torah, give a D'var Torah (a "word of Torah," or sermon), study Jewish texts, or anything else you want to know!
 

Interested in SCM? Reach out to:
Rabbi Getzel getzel@hillel.harvard.edu
You can learn more about Rabbi Getzel here.

 

Israel

TESHUVA FOR RACIAL INJUSTICE: THE CASE OF EHUD BARAK'S APOLOGY
Wednesday 8/26, 7pm Eastern

In 1997, shortly after becoming leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Ehud Barak issued an extraordinary public apology to Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin on behalf of the European elite that ruled Israel during the 1950s. In this session we will consider the historical context of this episode and the philosophical and ethical issues at stake in Barak’s apology as we prepare for the High Holy Days.

 

ISRAEL UPDATE: SUMMER CATCH UP
Monday 9/7, 7pm Eastern 

Come along for a deep dive into this summer’s key headlines from Israel. Together we’ll explore primary sources and media to uncover the broader context of each episode and consider the issues at stake. Israel Update will continue to meet on Monday evenings (most weeks) throughout the semester, each time diving into a headline from the previous week in Israel.

**COMING SOON!**

ISRAELI BOOK CLUB: THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH BY AYELET TSABARI
October, see details below

The Best Place on Earth is a collection of short stories about Mizrahim - Jews of Middle Eastern and North African heritage. Participants will receive a free copy of the book, share thoughts in a WhatsApp group, and meet three times on Zoom - twice to discuss as a group and finally to meet the auther(!), Ayelet Tsabari, and ask her your questions. Facilitated by Mikhael and Avital.

 

Registration deadline: September 10
(Register here

  • First discussion: Week of 10/5, to be scheduled with registered participants.
  • Second discussion: Week of 10/19, to be scheduled with reigstered participants.
  • Meet the author (!): Sunday, 10/25, lunchtime (Eastern)

SHA'AH IVRIT (HEBREW HOUR)
Weekly, time and day TBD

Practice your Hebrew with an Israeli student facilitator and other learners of all levels. No prior knowledge required, just enthusiasm and willingness to make mistakes!

Jewish Learning

TALKING TORAH - WITH HARVARD STUDENTS AND FACULTY

Begins October 12


Creation, Environment, Migration, Family, Love and Relationships, Legacy, Self-Concept, Sacred Struggle, Rivalry, Dreams, Government, Blessing...Each week our Torah gives us concepts and stories that are, on the one hand, ancient and perhaps archaic, but, on the other hand, iconic, emblematic, and still central not only to our religion and to the story of our people but also to the experience and journey of being human. Each week, through our cycle of Torah-readings, we will explore these ideas and narratives, with teachings from our tradition, with Harvard faculty, and with you.

SOVEREIGNTY, SHOFAR, AND SOUL-SEARCHING – THE PRAYER-PRACTICES OF THE HIGH HOLIDAYS
Date and time TBD

What are we praying for at this season, and how does one pray? Is prayer a matter of petitioning in submission, or perhaps of taking charge? Do ancient ideas like monarchy and sacrifice inevitably distance us from the prayer-words we have inherited, or can they be keys to a closer and more active relationship with our sacred inheritance in our own lives and times? Do we just read the words when we pray? What more can we do and experience?  

Contact jonah@hillel.harvard.edu

WEEKLY PARSHA WITH RAV DANI
Meeting time TBD

In this class, we discuss the week's Torah portion, drawing from ancient to contemporary commentaries and everyhting in between. Class assumes a general familiarity with the Torah text.

For more info contact dani@hillel.harvard.edu 

MODERN RESPONSA WITH RAV DANI
Meeting time TBD

Each week, join your friends for lively learning and engaging discussion on a different responsa addressing a wide variety of topics that pertain to the observance of halakha in the modern world. Working knowledge of halakhic conepts and basic familiarity with modern Hebrew strongly recommended.

For more info contact dani@hillel.harvard.edu

ON ONE FOOT: LEARNING TOGETHER FOR EVERYONE
Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. EST
Starting September 14th (skipping September 28th)

 

A weekly introduction to Jewish topics taught by an amazing line up of Harvard faculty, rabbis, and scholars. Each week, we gather for an hour to be introduced to a topic, dive deeply into a text or artifact, and then have a period for questions and discussion. Open to all Harvard affiliates regardless of Jewish background or Hebrew experience. Folks are welcome to drop into specific sessions that they are interested in, or tune in regularly to become a part of the learning community.

 

For more information, contact getzel@hillel.harvard.edu

 

SCM Sunday Book Club
Alternate Sundays in September
Interested? Fill out this form.

 

The Student Conservative Minyan (SCM) will be hosting a book club this semester as a means of maintaining togetherness while apart on Shabbat and engaging with Jewish thought remotely. We will send out books to participants to read over Shabbat and then meet to discuss them every other week on Sunday afternoons. The book club is open to everyone at Harvard Hillel, regardless of minyan affiliation, and freshmen are particularly encouraged to join us!

Our first book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, is a detective novel set in an alternate history in which Europe's Jews relocate to Sitka, Alaska in the wake of the Holocaust and the 1948 collapse of the state of Israel. We will read the novel over the course of the month of September. You can find a more detailed description of it here.

 

THEODICY AND THEOLOGY: G-D, JUSTICE, AND HUMANITY

*For Gap Year Students*

 

Co-taught and crafted by Alex Bernat ‘25

  • Week 1: Creation and dignity (Genesis 1-2, “Sacred Image of Man”, Self-Reliance, Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)

  • Week 2: Faith and the unknowable (“Faith”, “Cosmic Theology and Earthly Religion”)

  • Week 3: Pursuing G-d individually and communally (Lonely Man of Faith and The Fall)

  • Week 4: Suffering and retribution (Job and Hamlet)

  • Week 5: Divine ethics (Eicha, Sodom v’Ammorah)

  • Weeks 6-7: An absent G-d?: Post-Holocaust Theology
  • Week 8: The ethic of non-indifference, Tzedakah, and human interpretations of justice (Ethic of non-indifference, Niebuhr on justice (civil law and natural law), letter from a Birmingham jail)

Contact Alex Bernat or Jaime@hillel.harvard.edu

1:1 LEARNING
Reach out to any Harvard Hillel staff to set up some 1:1 learning on a topic of your choice!

 

Avital avital@hillel.harvard.edu

Jaime jaime@hillel.harvard.edu

Mikhael mikhael@hillel.harvard.edu

Rabbi Jonah jonah@hillel.harvard.edu

Rabbi Dani dani@hillel.harvard.edu

Rabbi Getzel getzel@hillel.harvard.edu

Rabbi Jenn jenn@hillel.harvard.edu

So many great people! How to choose? Check out the videos on our staff page.

Social/Community

JEWISH LEARNING FELLOWSHIP (JLF)
Who am I?
What communities am I a part of?
What is worth committing myself to, and why?

The Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF) is a 10-week experiential, conversational seminar for first-year undergraduate students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms. We’re interested in asking big questions. You know, the big stuff . And we don’t purport to have any of the big answers...certainly not for anyone else. All participants who attend all of the sessions will receive a $200 Amazon gift certificate.

JLF is by application only, and spots will fill up quickly. You can apply right here.

Applications close September 9th.

*FIRST YEARS ONLY* Application is here https://forms.gle/w6M7fs2UGsLxf1Bw8

The class will meet on Zoom Noon-1:30 (EST - feel free to eat lunch through the class) on:

  • September 14, 21,
  • October 5, 12, 19, 26,
  • November 2, 9, 30

Not a First Year student but have BIG Questions? Application is here.

Trivia 

Game Night Tuesday, August 25th at 7:00 p.m. EST, join us for a game night using the Icebreaker website. Sponsored by Harvard Hillel's Reform Community.

Shabbuddies

Big/Little

Thesis Fairy

Tikkun Olam (Community Service)

Racial Justice

BEGINNING THE JOURNEY TOWARD ANTI-RACISM
Join Harvard Hillel and Dimensions Educational Consulting for "Beginning the Journey Towards Anti-Racism." Through the lens and language of the High Hoiday season, this learning series will offer:

  • Deep exploration of racial justice as a Jewish value,
  • Opportunity for honest conversation about our personal experiences and communal accountability around racism,
  • Language- and skill-building toward transformative action in our collective work toward antiracist practice.

"Beginning the Journey Toward Anti-Racism" will consist of 3 webinars (9/16, 10/7 & 21) and a series of small group discussions between webinars. All Jewish Harvard students - undergrad and graduate - are warmly invited to participate. Registration and attendance at the first webinar are required for participation. Please contact Rabbi Jenn Queen (jenn@hillel.harvard.edu) with questions.

 

EMBODYING JUSTICE

Embodying Justice is a group of university students that seek to support and strengthen the capacity of grassroots racial justice organizations through remote volunteering efforts. In partnership with racial justice organizations across the US, we are launching a national fellowship program. Fellows will intern with local racial justice organizations, learn from activists and scholars, enrich their advocacy tools toward racial equality, and build community through a shared commitment to uplifting grassroots efforts. The fellowship will form the foundation for building more sustainable infrastructure for remote volunteering in the ecosystem of racial justice. To learn about the model that inspired Embodying Justice, visit embodyingpeace.org.

 

We are looking to rapidly grow the Embodying Justice team (at our infancy!). When you get involved, expect to join a community of students built on relationship, ask questions, learn by doing, and ultimately shape what our first fellowship looks like. When you join the team, please indicate which subgroup you would like to join: Education, Outreach to Racial Justice Organizations, Web Development and Social Media, and Fellowship and Fellows Community.

Fill out our interest form to join our team: https://forms.gle/iYKAeCKBgti6CAm77. Direct your questions to Rebecca Thrope.

Intergenerational

 

GREETING VIDEOS FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

We will be compiling an educational series and video project in support of The Blue Card is an organization that strives to support Holocaust survivors, particularly those at or below the poverty line.

 

The Blue Card is currently accepting and distributing greeting videos to Holocaust surviros to provide support and warmth during the aprticlarly isolating times of COVID-19. A representative from The Blue Card, Milana Hazan, suggested we contribute videos, and extended the project deadline for Harvard Hillel’s Videos. Students will create videos introducing themselves and providing agreeting (music, reading a poem, sharing words of comfort). Students will email Sabrina their videos, and Sabrina will send videos over to The Blue Card. Sabrina will also compile videos for viewing on October 1.

For more info, contact Sabrina Goldfischer '23

DOR L'DOR
Intergenerational Chavruta Learning

 

As a student at Harvard Hillel, you can join in learning partnership with someone at Hebrew Senior Life or in the Worship and Study Minyan. Whether you have never had a Chevruta (learning partner), or you have been engaging in Jewish sources for years, you can join together in the Mitzvah of Torah study over video or phone with a member of an older generation.

 

The project is being called Dor L'Dor: an Intergenerational Chevruta Match. The name reflects the nature of the project: to connect people from generation to generation (Dor L'Dor) in kindling sparks of Torah in the world.

 

If you are interested in getting involved in the initiative at large (organization, matching, expansion, etc.), please contact Tobias Benn.

 

Homelessness

 

HARVARD SQUARE HOMELESS SHELTER

Harvard Hillel has actively supported the The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. As the Shelter evaluates how to do its work safely amid COVID, please reach out to Esther Caroline or Henry Lear for information on how to get involved.

 

Environmentalism

 

THE HARVARD SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE

Contact Tzofiya Bookstein '23

 

Event Calendar