Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tzedek Tuesday!

Hey everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Pammie Shapiro, your Tzedek chair for the year and I’m super excited to be making my blogging debut on the world-famous UF Hillel blog! I’ve decided to bring back the weekly posts about various social action-y things going on at Hillel and around Gainesville. Shout out to Emily Sasser for being the originator of this great idea.
So this week I want to focus on Project Makeovers. For those of you who haven’t heard of this awesome group, it’s a weekend event once a year to clean and revamp a local elementary school here in Alachua County. This year, Chester Shell Elementary will be getting the makeover and I would love to get a team together to volunteer. For more info about the project, visit their website here: http://www.wix.com/ufprojectmakeovers/ufpm. They also take donations of school supplies, books, etc. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll sign us up!
A few more shout outs for this blog. Tomorrow night is our first big fundraiser for Relay for Life (which is in just 31 days!!). If you haven’t heard or seen about it on Facebook, you probably live under a rock. So for those of you that do or who just need a reminder, Date Auction is tomorrow night at 7 pm!! There will be schmoozing, drinks, and lots of great people to bid on! Bids start at $5 and everyone should come out to support our team goal of $4000.
And last but not least, how could I write something without mentioning Challah for Hunger?? We’re back this week but with a bit of a twist. I’ll be at Hillel from 4-7 on Thursday prepping the dough then baking. So if you want a delicious fresh out of the oven challah or just want to get more info come on over and say hi!

Get Well Soon, Howie!

Over the summer a young man started coming to Hillel looking for volunteer opportunities.  His name is Howie.  Howie was spending some time in Gainesville waiting for a new heart.  Howie was born disabled and with heart condition.  In fact he was the youngest person in the history of Miami up to that time to have open heart surgery, at just 17 weeks old.

So Howie has been hanging out with us a little between waiting in Gainesville and travelling home to Miami.  Because of an extended stay in Gainesville over the weekend, Howie was able to join us for shabbat dinner last Friday.  He got to meet lots of our wonderful students and loved chatting with them about his nephew, professional wrestling, why he is in Gainesville.

Howie called me Monday morning with exciting news.  After a long time on the transplant list, he finally got a heart!  He was flown up here immediately on Angel Flight (an amazing organization, go check out their work) and by 4 PM was on the operating table.  Late last night the surgery finished, and Howie now begins his long road to recovery.

At Hillel, we want Howie to know we care about him and hope he has a fast and full recovery.  Our original plan was to send Howie a "Get Well Soon!" card.  But we are the UF Hillel, and we do things a little differently.  Keith made a suggestion, "See if we can get 1,800 students to sign the card".


Here's the plan amigos, I got this big show board, like a science-fair-board-thing. It says, Get well soon, Howie!"  All you need to do is sign it.  And print your name on the attached paper so we can keep count of the names.  It will be in the Hillel mostly, but I'll also be carrying it around, everywhere I go.  Follow me on twitter @UFHillel to track the card and on facebook.com/ufhillel.  

Why this?   Why ask so many students who don't know or haven't met Howie to do this?

Because Jewish people look out for and take care of one another.  It's the core of our community strength.  In my opinion it is a big part of why the Jewish people exist after 4,000 years of exiles, persecutions, the Holocaust, pogroms, ghettos, etc...
Also there is a mitzvah to visit the ill.   Here's a way to fulfill this mitzvah, we will take a piece of you, your thoughts, and your prayers to Howie.

Howie will likely be here for about a month at Shands.  My goal is to get at least 1,800 signatures within 2 weeks.  But I will desperately need your help, your classmate's help, your neighbor's help, your teacher's help too!  Seriously, ask if I can bring the card to class one day and everyone can sign it on their way out.  If you live in a fraternity or sorority house, let me know when I can bring the card over to get signatures.

Thank you for your help.  And let's hope for a fast and full recovery for Howie.

To contact Jeff, shoot him an email at jeff@ufhillel.org or tweet him @jeffdude

Monday, February 13, 2012

Secrets of Tabling...part 2....

Boom.  It's here people.  The long awaited return of tabling tips from the Master-Blogger, Semi-Pro Jogger, Wanna-be logger, OK-at Frogger, TV-Remote hogger, Love-to-spin Grogger, JEFF "SHIMMY" KAPLAN!!!!

Let's do this!! If you haven't read part one, you should.  If not no biggie, but this is the far more advanced tactics of the best tabling professional that has ever stepped foot in a UF sanctioned free speech zone.

 JNF tabling.

In this costume I can pull my arms and legs in.  Then I set myself up at pedestrian intersections.  I wait patiently like a lioness bunting my prey.  I JUMP out in front of people, hand them flyers, they yell, gasp, then laugh!  Then I retreat to my intersection.

This is a seriously pro move.  Novices beware.

Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registration Drive.

First some stats.  In two days we registered 1040 people in the world wide bone marrow donor database.  That's huge by every standard.

Why a monkey costume?  It was Halloween and I own this costume.  I wear it all the time.
In this costume I ask people if they want to stop childhood cancer.  Every person says yes.  Then you sign 'em and swab 'em.  Like a boss.
This one took tons of work and volunteer hours.  We had an incredible team from KD, APhiO, Footprints, and JSU.


You like T-Shirts?

You like Free T-Shirts with cute Jewishy saying?

Make a Graffi-tee.  At home you make the stencils, on campus you spray paint them on shirts.  But you need to wear one so people see how they look.  I like to look like cornholio from Beavis and Butthead.

Valentines Day/Birthright Registration

Everyone feels different about this one.  Some people like to say, "Are you Jewish? Free trip to Israel", some people just push the Israel thing.  I do a little of both.  Personally, I hate asking people if they are Jewish because I hate seeing their reactions.  Some people will scoff and say no, that sucks.  Some say "no, sorry" which actually isn't bad at all.  But the worst is when you know someone is Jewish and they say "No." and walk on by.  Nothing hurts me more than to see students shy away from their Judaism because they actively choose not to identify with it, out of unfounded shame or embarrassment.

So instead I just say, "Free trip to Israel with Taglit Birthright!  Info session..." I actually yell that.  It works.


You think it's easy to stand and hoot and holler outside for 3-5 hours at a time.  Especially when you're blowing Shofar in the hot September sun?!  You gotta fuel up kids!

If you don't, you will crash.  Just look at these two.


It's better if you just watch this clip from Tu B'Shavt tabling.

Remember these are the pro tips!  Good luck and Happy Tabling!!

Stalk Jeff on campus on twitter @Jeffdude.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night...With Beth Schafer at Rockin' Shababt!!

It's part of my job to say that I look forward to Shabbat each week. In a lot of ways, I do. I get to hang out with lots of cool students, get dressed up in clothes I don't normally wear to work and eat delicious soup courtesy of Chef Brothers. 

But this Shabbat is special. This Shabbat will feature Beth Schafer, an incredibly talented singer-songwriter hailing from the Orlando area.

Her visit is an extraordinary experience for students because 1) they don't have to listen to Jeff or myself lead services (as seen in the evidence below) 2) they have the opportunity to be exposed to different kinds of Jewish music and 3) her music is really incredible.


Growing up at a Day School, I knew a disgusting amount of Jewish music. Every holiday had a series of songs. It was Tu B'shvat? I could sing you 10 different songs about planting trees. And while I am slightly embarrassed to say this, my knowledge traveled with me to this job. I actually sang "Rise and Shine and Give G-d Your Glory, Glory" at a staff meeting because I completely forgot to prepare a Jewish learning piece. All joking aside, my background in a day school (coupled with the fact that my Mom's best friend is a Cantor---Hi Lisa!!) exposed me to a side of Judaism that I could relate to. I grew up playing the guitar, sang in the High Holiday Choir and always performed at my temple. I had the privilege of singing one of Beth's songs "Lev b'Lev" at a service and I can honestly say, I am really looking forward to seeing her tonight in person.

My relationship to Judaism has always flowed through music and it is because of musicians like Beth Schafer that I was able to fuse my passion of music with my Jewish identity. This part of my life has now become hobby but it still defined a large part of my teenage years. Songleading in NFTY, summers at Camp Coleman and performing at my Temple were all made possible because of artists like Beth. 

Come out to Rockin' Shabbat featuring Beth Schafer, tonight at Hillel at 7:30. To preview her music (which you'll love!), visit www.bethschafer.com

*This post was written by Jessica, Hillel's Jewish Student Life Coordinator/pseudo-Cantor/coffee fanatic. Follow her on Twitter @Jess_davis78 or email her at Jessica@ufhillel.org