Friday, October 12, 2012

YGRS - Youth Group Reunion Shabbat!

Some of my fondest memories of Shabbat come from my years in the Conservative Jewish Youth Group - United Synagogue Youth. It started when I went on the USY on Wheels summer program in 2006. It was essentially a six and a half week bus tour around the country with 46 other Jewish teenagers and 5 college-aged staff members. We stopped in dozens of cities along the way, staying at hotels or with local synagogue members as we took in the sights. Usually these sites included museum tours, free time to explore the city, and prayer - lots of praying. Even on some of the longer bus rides, we broke into groups to practice leading prayers and learning new ones. We created friendships and bonds that are still going strong while learning what it means to be Jews in America today. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most incredible summers in my life.

After that experience, I was hooked. I spent the next summer with USY again, but this time in Israel taking in the breadth of the country with 26 of my new best friends plus our 4 phenomenal staff members. During the school year I was also highly involved in my chapter (KAUSY...Moo), Sub-Region (Olive Mercaz and always will), Region (H-A-Negev, H-A-negev, go HaNegev!), and International USY events. I served on the HaNegev Regional Executive board as the Israel Affairs Vice President my senior year of high school and have the fondest memories of all the conventions I attended. It is hard to explain what USY means to me in just this short blog post, but it truly has a special place in my heart. It had the greatest impact in shaping me into a better Jew and person while I was in high school. I am forever grateful for my experience in USY and am sure that others can say the same for their similar youth group experiences. If you would like to share your story to potentially be highlighted in next week’s blog post, please feel free to email me at

The Shabbat and Holidays team along with the Jewish Learning team under Missy Goldstein, are hosting a Youth Group Reunion Shabbat (or YGRS to abbrev) on October 19th to bring together students who are alumni of USY, BBYO, NFTY, and NCSY youth groups. UF Hillel is hoping to personally invite Jewish youth group alumni at UF and other Florida universities that are looking to participate. Please consider joining us to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. For those of you who did not have this experience, we also encourage you to see this youth group reunion in action and meet new friends as well. For more information or to invite others, please visit the Facebook event here:

As a reminder, Traditional, Conservative and Reform services will begin at 7:30pm tonight followed by a delicious and FREE (thanks to our generous donors) kosher Shabbat dinner
at 8:45pm. We hope that you will join us!

Shabbat Shalom and Beat Vandy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tzedek Tuesdays!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! 

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be spotlighting several of the awesome local organizations we will be working with on Mitzvah Day (November 18th!). So this week I'm going to write about Gainesville's Hope Lodge. 

The Hope Lodge is a home away from home for patients undergoing cancer treatment. It is a service provided by the American Cancer Society and strives to provide comfort during hard times for adults, children, and their caregivers- a similar idea to the Ronald McDonald House which we will also be volunteering with. The building was opened in 1986 and was recently renovated in 2008. With generous donations from the community, Hope Lodge is able to provide a fully equipped kitchen, linens, and towels.

They love having volunteers and are very much looking forward to having us come by!

To learn more visit their website here.

For more info on Mitzvah Day and how you can help, please email me at!

Pammie :]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Israel: Join us for Hookah & more

As many of the Jewish holidays are coming to a close, it is important to
realize that the events at Hillel are not. There is a Simchat Torah Celebration tonight
at Hillel at 7:30 p.m. Make sure you check it out and come celebrate and learn about

It is an exciting time for Israel events at Hillel, especially with a new Israel
group forming on campus. Zionist Gators started last spring and just held its first
officer elections this past week. Make sure to like their Facebook page to get
updates on exciting events that they will be hosting.

Also, next Wednesday at 8:30, Israel & Social Manoa will be hosting a Hookah social event on Hillel's patio. Come enjoy Israeli culture with your friends!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Good Yontif (good day or holiday) Y'all!

Chag Sameach (or Happy Holiday) to everyone! Thank you to Dannie and Jeff for your great insights on the holiday of Sukkot and the Sukkah. While it follows the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a celebratory holiday. Sukkot originated as a harvest festival, with the crop’s first fruits brought to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to G-d.

So what is the deal with this Sukkah thing outside of Hillel? Sukkah is often translated as booth and is the hut that is constructed on the holiday of Sukkot to symbolize the shelters used by Jews in the wilderness after being freed from Egypt. The Book of Leviticus (23:42–43) portrays God as commanding: “You shall dwell in booths for seven days…that your generations may know that I made the Children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” According to halakha, a sukkah is a structure consisting of a roof made of organic material which has been disconnected from the ground (the S'chach). A sukkah must have 3 walls. It should be at least three feet tall, and be positioned so that all or part of its roof is open to the sky. Fun Fact: only the part which is under the sky is kosher. (taken from Wikipedia - Sukkot)

If you are interested in having a meal in the sukkah, please join us tonight for Shabbat. Traditional, Conservative, and Reform services will begin at 7:30pm followed by a delicious and FREE (thanks to our generous donors) kosher Shabbat dinner at 8:45pm in the Sukkah! There will also be be seating inside as well. We hope that you will join us for an oneg after dinner sponsored by Torah Advancement Project. You can see more details about their event here:

And don’t forget to join us on Monday, October 8 at 7:30 pm for a Simchat Torah celebration as well. Following a brief, ruach (spirit)-filled service there will be dancing and singing with the Torah as we mark the end of one reading cycle before beginning another. Rabbi Gail will be leading a NY-style Simchat Torah you don't want to miss! And if you're lucky, you might even get the chance to carry the Torah!

For information about all of these programs and more, please visit UFHillel on facebook or you may email me at

Shabbat Shalom, Good Yontiv, and Go Gators!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome Sukkot!

Following a crazy couple of weeks filled with High Holiday festivities, Sukkot is here already!  Where does the time go?  My family did not really observed Sukkot while I was growing up so I never had a true understanding of what it was.  I just knew that it existed and that a giant fort structure was built and meals and festivities took place inside of it.  This Sukkot (only one day in) I am proud to say that I have been more active in the celebrations than ever before.  Hadar, Melanie and I decorated the Sukkah today.  The theme we chose is around the world, so flags were printed out and we taped them to the sukkah pillars.  We also hung up traditions that Jewish people in other countries do during Sukkot.  Melanie was full of information and taught Hadar and I some new things.  Everyone who walks into the Sukkot will love the decorations and enjoy reading about traditions around the world. 
Following decorating, Sara put on a great event.  It was dinner in the Sukkot to celebrate the first night.  Sara led the ‘Seder’ and stopped to talk about different traditions.  I am grateful for her teaching me new things that I did not know about Sukkot.  We then noshed on Leonardo’s for dinner and enjoyed Publix cookies for desert.  Delicious! I am looking forward to continuing to celebrate Sukkot with Sushi in the Sukkah on Wednesday at 6, and then at 8, I can’t wait to see the desert sushi that people put together.   

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shabbat Shalom My Holy Friends!

I hope everyone who observed the fast on Yom Kippur had a safe fast and if not, at least had some time for self-reflection. Now just because the Jewish High Holidays may be over, doesn’t mean that we can forget the commitments and resolutions we promised to uphold. While I love that we have ten days to make resolutions, apologize to those we have hurt, and ask G-d for forgiveness, it is certainly not limited to just the High Holiday season. I hope that you consider this message and make thanksgiving and reflection part of your daily routine.

If you are looking to do some service to the community please consider attending the Tzedek team’s program, Crafting with children from Noah’ Endeavor this Sunday at 1:40pm. Please check out the facebook event here:

We are also looking for those with lots of creative energy to help us decorate the Sukkah (that awesome structure outside of Hillel at the moment) on Sunday at 5:30 pm. The theme created by the Manoa Arts team is Around the World, so bring yourself and your best ideas!

Then at 7:00 pm, the Shabbat and Holidays team will be putting on a “traditional” Holiday meal (from Leonardo’s Pizza) in the Sukkah to discuss the the importance and traditions of Sukkot. This event is open to all students who wish to experience the glory of Sukkot in the Sukkah and have a delicious meal!

For those who are interested, please check the calendar at for more information about these programs and more offered by UF Hillel.

As a reminder, Traditional, Conservative and Reform services will begin at 7:30pm tonight followed by a delicious and FREE (thanks to our generous donors) kosher Shabbat dinner
at 8:45pm. We hope that you will join us!

Shabbat Shalom and Go Gators!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everyone can be a superhero

As you may know, if you know me or are an avid reader of Hillel's blog, that I am the Jewish Learning here at UF Hillel.  Someone who has inspired me through Jewish learning is a rabbi who I met at camp, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Rabbi Sommer is an amazing human being.  She is kind and genuine and stronger than most people you will probably ever meet.  Inspiration is a large part of my Jewish identity.  It helps me think up fun ideas for programs, allows me to see Torah portions, texts, and other issues from different perspectives than I may not have thought of originally.  Given that I plan to work as a Jewish professional, this is very important. 

So why does all of this matter?
Because we are one, big, Jewish family.  A kehillah kedosha- a holy community.  And I'm hoping you can help me out with a little project.  Rabbi Sommer's 6-year-old son, Sam, is currently in the hospital battling Lukemia.  He has already undergone three rounds of chemotherapy, and has one round left. 
Sam LOVES superheros.  So I'm going to ask you a small favor.  
I want YOU to help me show Sam how many people are on him team, so he can feel the love:

Take a photograph of yourself wearing your favorite superhero shirt
(or helping up their logo...or just smiling!)

Print out the picture.

Put it in an envelope and mail it to:

Sam Sommer, E571 E582

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

P.O. Box 1997

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1997
And PLEASE (pretty please) pass this along and share it with your family and friends.
If you want more information about Sam and his journey:
If you want more awesome Jewish inspiration from Rabbi Sommer:
B'Shalom (in peace),

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tzedek Tuesdays!

L'Shana Tova Everyone! 

Can you believe Yom Kippur is already upon us? The 10 Days of Awe have nearly passed and it is during these 10 days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur that we reflect on the past year and think about the year to come. One important thing to think about during these days is tzedakah- acts of charity or good deeds. What more could you have done to help your community last year? What acts of tzedakah can you do in the coming year? Well I can definitely answer the second question for you! As the Tzedek intern at Hillel, I have plenty of resources to lend a helping hand to various local organizations here in Gainesville and many other important groups and causes around the world. You can even start your new year with an act of tzedakah! Bring in healthy canned goods to Hillel and the Tzedek team will be donating them to a local food bank! And if you're looking for an even bigger fix of tzedakah, join Hillel for our third annual Mitzvah Day! Planning is underway for this amazing event and I would love for all of you to be a part of our big day of service! If you're interested in helping to plan Mitzvah Day, please feel free to contact me at!!

G'mar Chatimah Tovah! May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy New Year!

After Rosh Hashanah and a crazy week of getting back in the swing of things, I was honored to attend Shabbat at Hillel with Congressman Ted Deutch as a guest.  He was coming in town with his family for the Kentucky game and was able to make it to Shabbat dinner.  As a member of Gators for Israel, I know that the Congressman has a great relationship with UF students because when we go to D.C. he always makes time to see us.  I sat with one of his daughters and his son and couldn't stop telling them how cool it is that Congressman Deutch is their father.  The highlight of the Shabbat was when Nicole Krassner, Gators for Israel President, introduced the Congressman to speak.  He wished everyone a L'shana Tova and then got into Middle East politics.  He discussed his passion toward the state of Israel and why he fights for Israel.  He shared with us how he got involved in foreign policy and how that led him to running for office.  His story was inspiring. I was glad that I brought in Shabbat with Congressman Ted Deutch and that I rekindled my relationship with him.  Shabbat at Hillel had a larger audience than usual because student leaders that were interested in establishing a relationship with the Congressman came as well. I was indeed proud to be there.

Metisyahu will be in Gainesville after the high holiday festivities.  Please join us October 23rd! If you are interested in purchasing a ticket please email ARTS@UFHILLEL.EDU with your name, phone number and how many ticket you want.

Wishing everyone a L'shana Tova and a safe and easy fast.

Dannie Lehrer

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guten Shabbos!

I thought this was humorous.
I hope everyone enjoyed last week’s post with Rosh Hashanah parodies because I sure did! It was a great way to celebrate the holiday and begin my personal reflection for the New Year - probably due to the fact that I couldn’t get some of them out of my head!

On a more serious matter, this upcoming Shabbat is a special one and not just because of some really awesome guests we have coming (Welcome Board of DIrectors and Representative Deutsch!), but because it is the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the only one that can occur between these two holidays). Shabbat Shuva sits right in the middle of the ten Days of Awe (or Repentance) during which we are urged to reflect on our year, leading up to the day of atonement on Yom Kippur. Remember, Yom Kippur is a time to ask for forgiveness for sins committed between you and G-d, not for those that are committed between others. We are supposed to use the Days of Awe to apologize to any of those people we may have harmed this year, ask for their forgiveness, and commit to being better in the New Year. On Rosh Hashanah we ask that we are inscribed in the Book of LIfe, but it is not until Yom Kippur that the Book of Life is sealed for good. I will be making my amends and reflecting this Shabbat while watching the Gators kick some Kentucky booty! I hope that you too, will consider this time for personal reflection and do the same. In addition, I hope that everyone who observes the fasting tradition on Wednesday for Yom Kippur has a safe and easy fast!

Shabbat Shalom, a Happy Shabbat Shuva, and Go Gators!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heshbon Nefesh- Inventory of the Soul

During the High Holy Days, there is a practice of taking a personal inventory, a heshbon nefesh in Hebrew. After all, how are we supposed to become better people or ask for forgiveness if we haven't taken a deep, hard look at how we have lived during the past year.

In this spirit, I am excited to announce that I will be leading a Writing as a Spiritual Practice workshop this coming Monday (9/24) from 7-7:45pm at Hillel's conference room (2020 W. University Ave.). We will start and end on time (I have another meeting I have to be at at 8pm!) so please come ready to begin. Prompts will be provided to help us reflect on the past year as well as how we want to live in the coming year. No writing experience necessary, but if you have a journal, feel free to bring it.

Looking forward to engaging in this holy work with you.
Rabbi Gail Swedroe

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lunching and Learning

Every year at camp each session has a limud topic (a Jewish topic that we learn about during the session), and as a camper I was lucky enough to learn from many wonderful rabbis, cantors, and educators (the faculty) about a variety of topics.  However, as a staff member I have the opportunity to work with AND learn from these Jewish teachers in different settings.  We plan limud for our campers, discuss potential careers in the field of Jewish professional life, and we have lunch and learn.  Because the faculty visits camp on a rotating basis--usually two weeks per set of faculty--we get to learn from many people.

On Wednesdays different faculty members offer to teach a lunch and learn for the staff.  One or two madrichim (counselors) from each eidah (unit) are given the opportunity to attend.  Appropriately so, much of our time as madrichim is spent taking care of and looking out for our chanichim (campers).  During lunch and learn we get to be people--college students--who want to learn.  This summer I learned about whether or not you can make kiddush on beer and what the RAC (the Religious Action Center) is all about.

Because I think Lunch and Learn is so wonderful I'm bringing it to you: the UF population.  This Friday there will be a Lunch and Learn in Plaza of the Americas at 12:45 (it will be during 6th period).  You provide your lunch and I'll provide dessert (yum).  As Friday is Shabbat Shuvah-the Friday between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur-we will be talking about the High Holidays and the Jewish year ahead of us.  Below is the link to the facebook event.  I hope you're able to make it and please feel free to bring your friends.

Shana Tova U'metuka (A sweet and happy new year),

Missy Goldstein
UF Hillel Jewish Learning intern

If you're interested in creating or participating in Jewish Learning opportunities here at UF Hillel, please let me know.  It's important to me that programs are focused on what you want to learn.  Yes, YOU.  So give me a shout:  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

IDF Cards L'Shana Tova

This week I tabled in the Plaza of the America’s.  While of course handing out fliers for birthright, I asked students if they would like to make a card to wish IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers a Happy New Year.  Although my card making set up was not the most popular program in the Plaza, I was still proud to take part in such a heart-warming project.  Those that did make a card were glad to be able to bring some new year cheer to Israeli soldiers, filling their cards with messages such as “Thank you for all that you do,” “L’Shana Tova,” and other phrases.

On Thursday at the GFI (Gators for Israel) executive board meeting, and at the JSU general body meeting, we were able to create even more cards to mail to Israel.

I am looking forward to sending these cards out because I know that anything the soldiers receive make a difference and keep them strong.  Because of heart-felt gifts and message they receive from grateful Jews all over the world, they continue to fight for the country that we can all call our homeland.

On that note, wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.  L’Shana Tova!

Danielle Lehrer
Manoa Arts Intern

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Rosh Hashanah so call your Zayde!

I’m not sure if you all know this about me, but I absolutely love the High Holidays, particularly Rosh Hashanah. Like I said two weeks ago, I really use the holiday as a time to reflect on the last year and make commitments to being a better Jew and a better person. Nothing gets me more excited for the New Year than receiving the annual update emails that my dad sends out to our family and friends. It is weird to read about the year in perspective for our family, but it also makes me proud of how much we have grown in the last year. I look forward to reclaiming our ‘high holiday seats’ at the synagogue my family has belonged to for close to 30 years and this year’s Rosh Hashanah is no different. The whole mishpacha (family in Hebrew) will be in town to join in on the festivities which makes it even more exciting.

But enough about me, another thing I love about Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish High Holidays is the parodies and videos that come along with the season. I have posted some of my favorite, most energizing clips to prepare for the High Holidays here:

1. - This is the Maccabeats’ Book of Good Life. Great for acapella fans and girls who love cute Jewish boys who can sing.

2. It’s Rosh Hashanah So Call Your Zayde is a great parody on Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit ‘Call Me Maybe.’ Special thanks to Sarah Pollack for sharing this one with me! What makes Rosh Hashanah Beautiful was made by students of Aish Jerusalem and will be enjoyed by everyone - even those who may not be One Direction fans. Temple Beth El’s High Holy Days are Upon Us is from last year but it is certainly a classic in my eyes. I suggest you skip to 3:00 minutes for a beautiful verse by Missy Rachel Goldstein’s mom, Lisa!

On that note, I hope you enjoy those videos as much as I did. I wish everyone a happy and healthy Jewish New Year. May you inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for another good year.

L’Shana Tova Tikatevu,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

There once was a program called LEAD

Once upon a time, a very long time ago (2008-2009), there was a program called LEAD.  

It brought in speakers like Bruce Pearl, former TN basketball coach (Jewish), and Jen Day Shaw, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.  I was very lucky to be part of this program and have the opportunity to meet with these speakers.  

Then one day Rabbi Yoni left and he took the magic of LEAD with him.  But have no fear, freshmen and sophomores of the University of Florida, because I have found the magic and brought it back!  And it is stronger than ever.  I am very passionate about leadership, and hope to pass what I've learned on to the next generation of Hillel leaders.  LEAD is an opportunity to learn from each other, from speakers, to advance your own leadership skills, and to put all of this in a Jewish context.

If you, or a friend, is interested in LEAD please e-mail me for the application...or if you have any questions.  I hope to make LEAD's comeback a powerful force in student leadership.

I will also be at Shabbat on Friday and at Hillel for all of the High Holidays, so please feel free to come find me and chat.

B'Shalom (in peace),

UF Hillel Jewish Learning intern

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tzedek Tuesdays!

Shalom Gators!

Did your temple ever run a canned food drive around the High Holy Days? Have you donated to the drive? Well guess what? UF Hillel will be having its own canned food drive this year!

Hunger is something that we still face today, in the US and around the world. According to Mazon, as of 2006, there are over 36 million Americans, including 13 million children, who suffer from hunger or do not have enough food. As we fast on Yom Kippur, we are told to deny ourselves sustenance in order to better focus on t’shuvah (repentance), t’filah (prayer) and tzedakah (charity) but also to recognize those who suffer the pain of hunger throughout the year.  The Prophet Isaiah said if there is still hunger in the world, then our prayers are not done.

So here is your chance to help relieve hunger here in Gainesville! Bring in HEALTHY canned food items any time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and we will donate the items to a local food bank.

You can also help fight hunger all year through our Challahfor Hunger program! More info to come soon!

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! May you all have a sweet new year!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Birthright Registration!

I am so excited to see that the amount of people registering for birthright has already overloaded birthright’s internet server. Winter birthright registration for those who have previously registered is now open.  Also, general registration opens Wednesday at 10 a.m., for those of you who have never signed up before!  Hillel staff and volunteers will be on campus Wednesday helping people sign up. Most people know the general idea behind birthright, but here are some fun facts that you probably did not know:

1. Taglit Birthright has several trip providers that specialize for particular groups. Examples: reform, orthodox, Hillel, outdoors, arts
2. Israel uses a different voltage system than the U.S. (220V), so make sure to pack an adapter.
3. It takes around $3,000 to send a participant on a birthright trip, so thank the Israeli government, Jewish philanthropists, and your Jewish federation for all of the support. 
4. You will see more cats in Jerusalem than ever before in your life. 
5. 750,000 nights have been booked into Israeli hotel rooms throughout Israel by birthright participants
6. Young people from 59 different countries have been sent on birthright 

Happy Registering!!!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Metisyahu and the Presidential election are on my mind as I write this.  I am ecstatic about Metisyahu coming back to Gainesville so soon, and as I watch the Democratic National Convention, I can’t wipe the smile off of my face – the smile that says “I am proud to be an American Jew.”

Metisyahu is coming to the Florida Theater on October 23 at 9 P.M. Hillel will be selling tickets and if we reach our goal, Metisyahu will be visiting Hillel before or after the show for a meet and greet with students! I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see him live again, yet alone meet him!

Another perk is his new CD! If we reach our ticket sales goal his CD or online access code will be available for half price –what a steal!  If you are interested in getting a ticket and joining in on the fun, please email me at

These additional perks will only be available for those who purchase tickets through Hille

Metisyahu ties into the election because he is Jewish and the Jewish vote is playing a prominent role in the upcoming election.  Both candidates are working closely with the Jewish community to make our prestigious vote count toward them.

Thursday evening when President Barack Obama spoke I was moved.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout his whole speech, curious if he would bring up the subject of foreign policy, or Israel.  Never disappointing me, he did!

“Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace.”

I am so glad that Obama always stands with Israel.  This election is an exciting one, especially for the Jewish community.  It is incredible to know that such a small population’s vote is so important to the campaigns!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Shabbat ISRAELI Awesome!

Imagine the most picturesque setting in the Old City of Jerusalem, surrounded by thirty of your closest friends, singing the Kabbalat Shabbat service at the top of your lungs. The streets are quiet and the air is sweet. I know this sounds totally cheesy, but my most memorable Shabbat experience in Israel during my high school trip was just what I described.

As the sun came down that Friday night in Jerusalem, our group leader had us trek out to a park a few blocks away from the hostel we were staying at that weekend. We passed the time on the walk by talking and laughing in small groups with a few people in the back shouting “Shabbat Shalom” at every passerby. With our prayer books in our hands, we probably looked crazy to these native Israelis!

We finally made it to the grassy park overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. It was, and probably still is, my favorite view in the world. We got into a circle and just starting singing. I already love the Kabbalat Shabbat service, but it was even more beautiful in this gorgeous setting with my close-knit group.

I believe that everyone deserves this wonderful Shabbat experience too. That is why, if you are Birthright eligible or have friends that are, I encourage you and your friends to join us tonight at Hillel for a Birthright Reunion Shabbat. You will be surrounded by people that have experienced the glory of Shabbat in Israel and that can help you on your journey to Birthright registration. Services will start at 7:30 and a delicious, Israeli-themed dinner will be provided (thanks to our generous donors) at 8:40. We hope that you will join us!

Shabbat Shalom,

The view from the park before Shabbat

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is Manoa?

What is Manoa?

Manoa means machine in Hebrew. Manoa is also the name of UF Hillel’s student leadership team.

It is with the help of students like you Hillel  is able to provide a variety of programming catering to different aspects of Jewish life. There are six different programming areas, each catering to a different aspect of Jewish life.  Each program area is headed by a Manoa intern and has a committee that helps plan events for students and the community.  The six program areas are: art, Israel, Jewish learning, Shabbat and holidays, social and tzedek (social justice).

Do you see a committee that sounds interesting to you?  Please contact the Manoa intern heading that committee to discuss how to get involved. Contact them if you are interesting in getting involved with Manoa, have any questions or if you would like to join a committee.

Arts Programming–Danielle Lehrer:
Israel Programming- Kimmie Klaiman:
Jewish Learning Programming- Missy Goldstein:
Social Programming- Alex Masi:
Shabbat & Holidays Programming- Sarah Pila:
Tzedek (Social Justice) Programming- Pammie Shapiro:

It's Market Day!

It's very appropriate that I write my blogs on Thursdays.  For those of you who don't know Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are all Torah reading days (because in olden times those were the market days and Torah was read at market).  So I might use this blog to occasionally share some insights into Parshat HaShavua, the weekly Torah portion.

This week's Torah portion is Ki Tavo.  A passage from Ki Tavo states: 
You shall cast yourself down before the Presence of God and you shall rejoice in all the good that God has given you and your household. You shall also give portions to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. They shall eat it within your gates and be satisfied. In the third year of giving portions, you shall say in God's presence that you have followed the commandments for giving regularly to those less fortunate. You shall then ask God to bless the Israelites and the soil.

So what does this mean for us?  For college students and citizens of 21st century America?  Just because we aren't leaving a corner of our fields for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, doesn't mean that they are any less our responsibility.  We must care for our fellow man so that when it is us who is the stranger, the orphan, or the widow, there is someone to care for us.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Missy and I am a senior here at UF majoring in Jewish Studies and Family, Youth, and Community Sciences.  I am the Jewish Learning intern on the Manoa board of Hillel.  And Hillel is a big part of my life and identity as a college student.  I'm interested in you and your interests, especially as they relate to Judaism and Jewish Learning.  If you're interested in creating or participating in Jewish Learning opportunities here at UF Hillel, please let me know.  It's important to me that programs are focused on what you want to learn.  Yes, YOU.  So give me a shout:  

Can't wait to hear from you!
B'Shalom (in peace),

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tzedek Tuesdays!

Hope everyone had a safe and fun Labor Day weekend! Tzedek Tuesdays are back and they’re going to be better than ever! Check back every Tuesday for updates on Tzedek events and just general social action/social justice alerts!

This week I want to let everyone know about a new initiative I will be starting in the Hillel building. I hope everyone knows about the Ronald McDonald House Charities and all the amazing things they do for families when their children are in the hospital. If you don’t, you should go look them up right now!  The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a very special organization for me and I will be forever grateful for the assistance they offered to my parents when I was in the hospital over twelve years ago. Ever since my experience with them when I was just eight years old, I have dedicated a lot of my time to giving back to the organization including dedicating my Bat mitzvah project to them and occasionally volunteering at my local House.

What can you do to help benefit this incredible organization and what does it have to do with my new initiative? Glad you asked! You know those aluminum tabs on your soda cans? The Ronald McDonald House collects these tabs and brings them to a recycling center and can get money for all those tabs! Now that Hillel has a soda machine, I’m going to place tab houses around the building so that instead of just throwing away the tabs, everyone can help our local Ronald McDonald House to raise more money! So keep an eye out for those tab houses and if you’re interested in keeping one in your dorm, apartment, or house just let me know (email me at and I will be more than happy to get one for you! Bring your tabs into Hillel or to me and we can all help our Ronald McDonald house be able to aid even more families in the future.

Hope to see everyone collecting those tabs! Don’t forget about our Birthright reunion Shabbat this Friday. Bring a Birthright eligible friend for Israeli salad, humus, and maybe even some schnitzel! See you all there! 

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

            Shalom Gators! I hope everyone is enjoying their day off from school and work.

 Never been to Israel? Haven’t made plans yet for winter break? This Thursday, there will be an info session about Birthright. Registration starts soon so get your questions answered in Hillel at 7 p.m.
This year I have been blessed with the opportunity to go to Israel twice. The first time, I toured Israel with Hillel on Birthright. Israel was so beautiful in the wintertime and it enabled me to meet so many Jewish students that go to UF. I was lucky enough to go again in summer on Rabbi Wolnerman’s trip. It was then that I fell in love with Jerusalem and the history that Israel had to offer.
 It is always great to see the friends you made hanging out back at UF. So come out this Friday and celebrate with your birthright friends with an Israeli themed Shabbat meal sponsored by our wonderful supporters.  Services start at 7:30 and dinner starts at 8:30 p.m. Don’t forget to bring your Birthright friends and those who are eligible for to sign up.