Friday, December 2, 2011

Mitzvah Day Recap

Mitzvah Day was a huge success and we couldn't have done it without you! Thank you so much for your support throughout the process of planning Mitzvah Day. Below is a summary of everything that went into making Mitzvah Day possible.


We received $500 from The Union for Reform Judaism, $250 from our local Challah for Hunger Chapter, $1000 from The Jewish Student Union, $100 from our local Alpha Phi Omega Chapter, $190 from Jewish Council of North Central Florida, $120 from our local chapter of Jewish Graduates and Young Professionals, and other in-kind donations.

We spent $38.12 on rollers to paint the YMCA. 

We spent $251.81 on supplies to make bagged lunches for the homeless community.

We spent $1027.00 on t-shirts.

We spent $642.27 on breakfast for volunteers.

We spent $22.00 on hay to bring to Alachua County Animal Services to set up in the animal play area. 

We spent $187.62 on brochures.

We spent $15.87 on a banner for advertising.

We spent $31.23 on nametags for participants, construction paper and other art supplies to make butterflies for the Houston Holocaust Museum’s Butterfly project, drop cloths to bring to the YMCA.

Donations Received:
  • 52 bagels from Panera Bread
  • 200 pages of copies from Study Edge

Final List of Projects:
  • American Jewish World Service (AJWS) – fundraising through t-shirt sales as participation in their 25K challenge
  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities – Respite event for parents of children with Disabilities
  • Animal Services – cleaning up the animal shelter, pulling weeds in the yard, spreading out 4 bales of hay for the animals to play with, bathing some of the animals
  • Art Project – creating centerpieces for the Shabbos tables at Hillel with materials recycled at Hillel
  • Bread of the Mighty Foodbank – canned food and toiletry drive
  • Citizens Co-op – hanging flyers to advertise for the newly opened co-op. We are Gainesville’s food cooperative. Our mission is to help grow a community-based food system through the creation and establishment of a food market that will offer a bountiful selection of natural foods and products.
  • Co-op Market - help to hand out locally grown thanksgiving items to members of the community
  • Forest Green – field day with the kids who live in Forest Green Apartments, government subsidized housing
  • G.E.A.R. – cleaning up a state park that has been littered with trash by the people who live along the borders
  • Gift of Life – swabbing cheeks of volunteers to have their information inputted into the national database to find bone marrow donations
  • Emeritus – spending the day with residents at a nursing home
  • Hope Lodge – sealing the benches that were recently installed in their garden
  • Israel Project – educating Sunday school classes about Israel and making cards for children in Alyn Children’s Hospital in Israel
  • Kanapaha Botanical Gardens – cleaning up invasive plant species
  • Meridian Behavioral - The students painted the exterior of Building R, weeded the MIST garden, shampooed the carpet in the 2 group rooms in the Bridge House, weeded “Gary’s Woods” and weeded the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) flower boxes.
  • Petsmart – helping with an adoption and assisting in data entry
  • Ronald McDonald House – making cookies for the families staying in the house while receiving medical care from UF at Shands
  • St. Francis House – making over 250 bagged lunches for the homeless community in Gainesville
  • The Butterfly Project – making butterflies to commemorate the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust, a project started by The Houston Holocaust Museum The Edible Plant Project – planting in the recently constructed greenhouse at The Edible Plant Project, which is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based group working to promote edible landscaping and local food abundance in North Central Florida. The goal of the EPP is to create positive alternatives to the unsustainable food system in this country.
  • YMCA – priming the hallways in their building 
Other Information:
  • Please go to to view all of the press on Mitzvah Day, pictures, updates, etc.
  • Mitzvah Day memories – Photos from around the world!
  • Photos from Gainesville!
  • UF Club Swimming swims their way out to Mitzvah Day!
  • Student Event Finder helping gather volunteers!
  • Gator Times spreading the word!
  • Mitzvah Day International telling the world about our good work!
  • Women’s Student Association made the canned food drive a competition!
  • Mitzvah Day was a part of Israel Month!
  • Horizons making their way OUTSIDE for Mitzvah Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

World AIDS Day Events!

To recognize World AIDS day, We Make The Change ( created the We Make The Change Virtual Memorial - a digital AIDS memorial that serves as a remembrance for those who died of the disease. 
To add a loved one to the virtual memorial, please fill out the form online ( To view it as it is now, go to the memorial (

NOVEMBER 29, 2011
8:00pm - 11:00pm
UF Hillel is bringing in Aids Educator and Motivational Speaker Scott Fried to speak about the Jewish Values behind education and advocacy.

Immediately following the talk there will be an informal dessert reception where you can meet with and talk to Scott. From "Scott Fried is an international public speaker, HIV/AIDS educator and author. He has devoted the past eighteen years of his life lecturing in nearly every state in this country, as well as Israel, England, Canada, Holland and Honduras, reaching more than a million people. He has spoken at over 750 institutions, including colleges and universities, high schools and middle schools, summer camps, synagogues and churches.

Scott uses himself as Exhibit A. He begins each lecture with his story of how he got infected with HIV in 1987 at the age of 24, during his first and only unsafe sexual encounter. His unstoppable approach to educating others can be encapsulated into one thought: one must understand the value of one's own life, and hold it sacred, in order to refrain from dangerous behaviors that could lead to HIV infection and other crises."

NOVEMBER 29, 2011
Stomp the Swamp will be hosting an event ( called Dancers Responding to AIDS in the Reitz Union. Come out for a night of entertainment as Stomp The Swamp hosts a showcase of dancers in support of Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA)!

In honor of World AIDS day on December 1st, the dance groups will be performing for YOUR donations to DRA, which provides support for individuals and families affected by AIDS.

Dance groups performing include:
Stomp The Swamp
American Racket
Dancin' Gators

To attend the show we are asking a simple $1 donation, or you can buy an "I'd Tap That" wristband from Stomp The Swamp for $2. A dollar of a wristband purchase goes directly to DRA.This event is sponsored by Dancers Responding to AIDS. For more information about DRA, please visit

NOVEMBER 30, 2011 
The RCP Movement will be having a kick-off event at the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) to inform the UF community about safe sex and HIV/AIDS awareness in a relax and fun setting.

Condom demonstrations, informational resources, and much more!

Did I forget to mention...FREE FOOD!
Come out and educate yourself on sexual health and the importance of knowing your status!
#RCP #ItsAMovement

NOVEMBER 30, 2011
In order to make a change, you have to make sure that you are not contributing to the problem. It is imperative that you get tested and know your status!
The RCP Movement is teaming up with GatorWell to bring you FREE HIV TESTING!
1 in 5 people do not know that s/he is HIV positive!
Join us on Nov. 30th from 5 -7 PM! We will be offering these services in Room 288, 289 and 291 in the Reitz Union!
"Are you positive that you are negative?"

DECEMBER 1, 2011 
In Plaza of the Americas, HIC envisions a collaborative effort by our sub-organizations to educate the student body about the Past, Present, and Future of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what they can do to help. We will have informational display boards, motivational speakers including UF faculty members, and free items to encourage safe sex. We also plan to show World AIDS day campaign videos from reputable organizations around the world. Together we hope to educate and inspire students to be proactive against the spread of the disease.

DECEMBER 1, 2011
Are you artistic? Do you know someone who is? Well, ONE UF is having an art show on World AIDS Day to celebrate the living!
They are looking for artists and performers to create whatever they want including paintings, drawings, poetry, and songs (related in some way to HIV/AIDS or poverty). The show will be at Volta coffee shop. The pieces will be judged and the winner has a chance to be featured on a national blog!

DECEMBER 3, 2011
Come out to ONE's INSPI(RED) World AIDS Day soccer tournament event to support the fight against HIV/AIDS.
To register a team, please go to this website and sign up for the University of Florida December tournament:
Each team has 6 players, and registration is $24 per team ($4 per person). There are prizes for the top team!
If you don't want to play, feel free to come out and watch the games as well as learn more about ONE, HIV/AIDS, and INSPI(RED) Soccer.

Check out their Facebook page ONE at University of Florida or email them at for more information.

DECEMBER 4, 2011
HIC will host a benefit concert to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS with performances by The Babylonians, 3rd Stone, Lindsey Mills, and other talented acts. All proceeds will go towards an HIV/AIDS charity that is effectively working to find a cure and save humanity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just a little each day...

I realized today how long it has been since I've been able to post on gets busy and the little things slip away. Something I was thinking about while walking from class here to work today was how important it is, every day, to take a few seconds or if you have time, an hour or so, to be aware of your Judaism. Let me explain my thought process...

For me, interning and working at Hillel is a sure fire way for me to make sure I get a dose of Judaism in my life every few days. I'm always Jewish, but I'm not always thinking about my Judaism (if that makes sense). When I do have a chance to either read an article posted by UF Hillel or UF Israel or when I see one of my friends from Hillel on campus I am reminded. Those little moments are so important to me because it keeps reminding me of who I am, where I come from and how important it is to keep these thoughts with me as I move forward.

One of my favorite things to discuss with Rabbi Daniel Wolnerman is the importance of breaking the habit (tying the other shoe first), making sure we are aware and not just merely living, but experiencing the life we live. I think this is such an important life lesson to learn and especially to learn and understand as soon as you can.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but my schedule isn't one that leaves a lot of room for free time. Because of this, I do my best to take the small times I have walking between classes, driving to and from work to in some way shape or form think about Hillel or Israel, my Judaism or even just how I'm keeping myself aware.

I want to challenge all of you, especially as the semester is starting to pick up with midterms etc., to really be aware. Take a few moments each day to remind yourself of what is important to you, Jewish or not.

Some things you can do:
  • Come to Hillel for any number of their programs every week (Lunch and Learn, Krav Maga, Torah on Tap, Shabbat services and more!)
  • Sit down and chat with Jess, Jeff or Josh
  • Discuss your ideals with Rabbi Daniel
  • Stop by and say hello to Keith, Blair and Corby
Just create a home for yourself here with the things you love... I promise you there is something here for everyone. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Israel Memories...
Birthright Bus 2- May 2011
"Saying goodbye to the soldiers"

Right to Left: Jordan Barrish, Shahar Kuleski, Kari Hochwald

Monday, October 24, 2011

"All the Flavors of Israel" with Avi Gordon from StandWithUs

UF Israel Network and the Jewish Student Union will be hosting an ice cream social open to the public with StandWithUs East Coast Coordinator, Avi Gordon. Avi will be leading an Israel education session, and there will be a bunch of interactive and fun Israel activities.

Come to Hillel tonight (October 24), to learn and speak with Avi Gordon, from the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs. There will be tons of ice cream and toppings to enjoy while learning and sharing about Israel. Everyone is welcome! Avi is so excited to share his knowledge on Israel and spread useful information on how to get to Israel on inexpensive programs. Come in and ask questions, share your experiences, or just listen. This program is especially beneficial for students who have gone, are going, or who have went on Birthright. It is so important to share your Israel experience with other students! Be sure to come in at 8pm to Hillel this Tuesday for a social you won’t want to miss.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Have you been there?

You walk past it every day and probably don’t realize it’s there. It is on the bottom floor of Library West, in the northwest corner. It holds stories, ideas, and art of a prolific people. The Price Judaica Library. The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica is known to be the greatest collection of Jewish literature and other materials in the southeastern United States. I have the honor of being the intern for the head librarian, Rebecca Jefferson. I have held some of the most rare Jewish books in the world. I have learned more about the history of the Jewish people just by working with these books than I have in a number of my classes.

Jewish history is filled with stories of exiles, pogroms, and conversions. These books hold the history of Jews before, after, and during these events. While the people who wrote them are no longer alive, the stories they tell are just as pertinent. One day while I was determining the rarity of a collection of books, I discovered a haggadah. We, the Price library, were the only library that had this haggadah in the world. It dawned on me that some family, 100 years ago, had sat around a table and read this personally-made haggadah. While this was only one family, it shows how all the way in Gainesville, Florida we can still appreciate it.

I invite you to come to the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica and see how it can inspire you.

This post was written by MANOA Shabbat and Holidays director, Andrea James.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Get your prayer and art on this week at Shabbat!

It's time to go non-traditional.

The Manoah Arts team has created a less than conventional approach to Friday night services. This Friday, September 23rd we will be having the first Arts Shabbat in which all participants will explore their individual connection with the prayers as we go through the service.

Not only will we have discussions, but we will also be creating artwork to express our findings. There is no right or wrong way to pray or connect with Judaism, the Arts team wants everyone to know that and hopes as many people as possible will give it a shot.

**This guest post comes from Amanda Solomon, MANOA Arts Director, UF Hillel. Look out for more MANOA leader posts in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's that time of year again!

So how about them Gators??  I know it was only the first game of the season and not much of a challenge, but come on, there is nothing better than standing in Ben Hill Griffin surrounded by 80,000+ of your closest friends all cheering for the same team.  It's definitely my favorite time of year!


Friday night, I was leaving Shabbat services at Hillel and I was hit by this amazing breeze I haven't felt in months...since Florida seems like it really only has one season -- HOT.  The breeze brought back memories from last fall, as it seems to do every year for me.  Fall is my favorite time of year, back to school, back to football, and the High Holidays.   This time last year I was just starting out at Hillel.  Corby and I were brand new PR interns with a lot to learn, and were so excited.  It's kind of fun to look back and remember really not knowing how much we were going to learn and grow through our experience.

This is kind of how I feel every year approaching Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Looking back on the year, thinking about all the things I'm grateful for, the things that I wish I could have improved on and the things that I want to change next year.  I have a lot of goals for myself this upcoming year, some of those including graduation (which of course will happen so more just a future date as opposed to a goal), going back to Israel and in the even more distant future, finding a job.  Some of the biggest goals I've had to set in my life thus far, but the way I look at it, even though some of these events are kind of scary -- like becoming a real adult and finding a job -- but what fun is life if there isn't a little thrill or fear of the unknown sometimes.  I'm definitely scared, but also really excited for the year ahead.

So...I challenge you to start thinking about the past year.  What are some things you are really proud of, what are some of the things you would like to change?  Do you have any upcoming milestones?  Try every day to spend a little time thinking about where you are coming from and where you want to go. It's going to be a great year.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Welcome Gators, New and Old!!

Hi everyone,

Jordan here! My oh my, it has been a long time since I posted on here. First and foremost, Welcome Back Gators and WELCOME to all our new Gator friends. I hope you all had just as great of a summer as I did.

Awhile back some of you may have read my post about finding your Jewish Identity (Click here if you haven't read it yet) and this summer I went on an adventure of a lifetime to help me discover even more about my Jewish Identity. I was lucky enough to join UF Hillel on one of their three Birthright trips to Israel. I had never even been out of the country so this trip for me was the absolute highlight of my summer. Being in Israel is something that is so hard to get into words, but truly one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life.

You see things you have only heard about in Hebrew school and at Shabbat services. You meet people that are living and breathing the Jewish culture. I truly felt like I had come home. They ask about your "aha" moments on the trip and while I had many, my first one was on Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day). Our bus joined in the memorial service at the Kibbutz we were staying on and even though the entire service was in Hebrew, I felt like I knew exactly what they were saying. There was such a strong feeling of community and sense of belonging that I have never felt as strongly anywhere else.

I think this is such an important aspect of anywhere that you are living. You have to find your community, your family, a place where you feel safe and accepted. I hope that one of those places for you will be UF Hillel. I began working as the PR Intern last fall and it has been such a rewarding year for me. I have made friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life, I have learned so much more about the Jewish people and Judaism than I had learned in my life before and really started to discover more about who I am and where I am going. It is a place to learn and grow and you also get to enjoy some really great food :)

If you missed our earlier events this week for Welcome Week don't be discouraged. Tonight Hillel is hosting Torah on Tap at Leonardo's Pizza on 13th and University. Torah on Tap is one my favorite events Hillel hosts each week. Great conversation with Rabbi Daniel and Hillel staff along with pizza and beer (for those of age). This event gets those wheels turning and helps you dig deeper into what being Jewish means to YOU.

Join us tonight at 9pm for Torah on Tap and Friday night for Shabbat services at 7:30p.m. with free Kosher dinner following at 8:30p.m.

And, don't forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter page for more updates!

It's going to be a great year and I can't wait to meet all of you!


Thursday, July 28, 2011


Hi, Jeff again. Today I was challenged by a soon-to-be-rival Hillel. NYU.

But first, let's talk about rivalries. UF and FSU. Sure, we're kinda neighbors, have traditions that go back a hundred years, and everyone at FSU tried to get in to UF but didn't. Their Hillel and ours actually have a legit relationship though.

UF and UM. OK, similar schools, similar demographics, and everyone in this state is either related to cane or gator. Or is one themselves at some point in their education. They got big mouths and talk a lot of trash BUT THAT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE FROM MIAMI..........................................................just like Jess.

According to a rivalry is created by several things, including:
Aggressive action by one party
Switching allegiances and backstabbing
One great game
Subversive actions
Local pride

Geographic proximity

Now let's chat about NYU's Bronfman Center (BC from here on out). The BC has never met any of our requirements to be close to our level. That all changed today. Because of what happened yesterday.


Yesterday we had staff lunch at our staff lunch place, Genghis Grill, for Corby's, our new development associate, birthday. Lunch conversation was lively and very funny. Keith, Exec. Director, regaled us with stories from college life, which prompted the tweet:

Corby Herschman
on his fraternity: "We didn't have a house parent. The keg was our house parent."

This kind of thing went on for like an hour. People joked and laughed and the really funny stuff, or stuff that was considered OK for public consumption, was posted on twitter. As someone who's graduate research was in Twitter, this made me real happy. Here are a group of professionals using Twitter to it's maximum potential. We had successfully navigated the constraints and affordances of this media while still engaging our audience, friends, and followers. So much so I tweeted this:

J Kaplan
No other tweets like the staff of . We should show u how it's done at the

J Kaplan
I should have addressed that last tweet to not , sorry dude.

Then today this was tweeted at me:

NYU Bronfman Center
Not so sure about that. Have you checked out the tweets of the mighty NYU staff? Throwdown at ?

I ain't no betting man but without looking I bet the @UFHillel twitter out tweets @BronfmanCenter 2-1, I bet we have more reach, and I be I can use the top 3 Twitter analyzers and prove UNEQUIVEQUALLY @UFHillel tweets like no other.

In the words of the Zohan, "So let's go."

  • 776Tweets

  • @BronfmanCenter
    "The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score."


    Score Analysis

    You are effectively using social media to influence your network across a variety of topics

    Network Influence: 46

    You are engaged by influencers

    In the past 90 days

    Network Influence is the influence level of your engaged audience. Capturing the attention of influencers is no easy task, and those who are able to do so are typically creating spectacular content.

    Amplification Probability: 22

    You are more likely to have your message amplified than the average person

    In the past 90 days

    Amplification Probability is the likelihood that your content will be acted upon. The ability to create content that compels others to respond and high-velocity content that spreads into networks beyond your own is a key component of influence.

    True Reach: 121

    You have built a good size network that is highly engaged


    We're currently updating our True Reach number -- please check back soon.


    Score Analysis

    NYU Bronfman Center is influential to a tightly formed network that is growing larger

    Network Influence: 38

    NYU Bronfman Center engages with a good mix of influencers and friends

    In the past 90 days

    Network Influence is the influence level of your engaged audience. Capturing the attention of influencers is no easy task, and those who are able to do so are typically creating spectacular content.

    Amplification Probability: 13

    NYU Bronfman Center is more likely to have their message amplified than the average person

    In the past 90 days

    Amplification Probability is the likelihood that your content will be acted upon. The ability to create content that compels others to respond and high-velocity content that spreads into networks beyond your own is a key component of influence.

    True Reach: 184

    NYU Bronfman Center has built a good size network that is highly engaged


    We're currently updating our True Reach number -- please

    check back soon.

    So the BC has more followers than us...doesn't matter! Look at every other criteria, UFHILLEL DESTROYS THE COMPETITION!


    This is a pain in the ass to format and transfer over. Just take my work for it. UF HILLEL has a score of 81. BC has a score of 91. It's because they have more followers.

    Last Analyzer TweetPsych. This site lets you analyze your modd and content of tweets. So this one is completely subjective, but It's fun so here it is:

    TweetPsych Report for @ufhillel:

    These are really long so I'll only post the top 3 from each group.

    Learning 146%

    Work 78%

    Time 71%

    TweetPsych Report for @bronfmancenter:

    Sex 371%

    Learning 358%

    Work 198%


    BC, you are some sick, disgusting people. I thought Giuliani cleaned your city up.

    Anyway I think UF wins. The only counter that really matters to anyone who is in the know is Klout.

    However, I know you New Yorkers are always uppity and shit. So let's actually get a real rivalry going. I challenge our best spinner to your best spinner in a spin'off dreidel show-down. We play by Dreidel rules, we each get 20 poker chips. You can bring 2 driedels if you want. I know I will.

    These are my terms @bronfmancenter. They are open to negotiation. You can let me know if you accept on twitter at @jeffdude or @ufhillel.