Friday, August 31, 2012

Shabbat Shalom and GO GATORS!

I have always loved that Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) generally coincided with the beginning of a school year. As a kid I used to think, “man - the school system finally got something right. Not only do I get an excused absence for the High Holidays (including Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), but it’s so early that I am barely missing anything in my classes!” Yes, I realize I was kind of a strange as a child, but I have made peace with the fact that I really haven’t changed much since then.

Even though the hours spent sitting in services tended to feel like years, I have always enjoyed having a (relatively) peaceful place to reflect on the past year and what I plan to do differently in the coming one. Even now, I think there is something beautifully symbolic with the fact that this year Rosh Hashanah is before most students are swamped with tests, quizzes, and papers galore. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the last school year, our goals for this semester and the next, as well as re-consider our priorities. Just as with the gregorian New Year, Rosh Hashanah has been a time that I make resolutions, apologize to those I may have harmed, and enjoy the company of my family and friends. I encourage everyone to take a moment this Shabbat or this weekend to think about how you are looking to improve academically this semester and commit to making it a resolution for the Jewish new year.

And don’t forget that a great place to do that reflection could be at Hillel tonight!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 8:30pm. We hope that you join us!

ps. If you are interested in doing a mitzvah (good deed) and reading Torah/Haftarah for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, email me at!

pps. If you want to be on my awesome Shabbat and Holidays committee, email me at!

Shabbat Shalom,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When I Reach Out to You and You to me...

August 19th marked Rosh Chodesh Elul- the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul-which is the month leading up to the High Holidays.  Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, who is the associate rabbi at Congregation Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois, started a movement called Blog Elul (#blogelul).  Every day is associated with a  different topic that allows and encourages us to reflect on the past year and the upcoming holiday season.  I've joined the movement and made an effort to blog everyday on my personal blog (

How do you see yourself as a person?  Who looks back at you when you look in the mirror?  Does your Judaism play any role in this image you have of yourself? 
It is said that we are all created B'tzelem Elohim, in God's image (for more about B'tzelem Elohim, check out Dan Nichol's song B'tzelem Elohim).  What does that mean to you?
Many students arrive at college and see an opportunity to change.  To be a new person.  To change the image that others have of him/herself.  How can we do this while maintaining that piece of God that is inside all of us?

My name is Missy and I am a senior here at UF.  I am 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),

If you're interested in blog Elul, here is the calendar for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Schmooze @ Swamp

There is absolutely no better way to spend your Thursday evening this week than by coming to the Schmooze @ Swamp hosted by UF Hillel and Manoa.

This Thursday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. UF Hillel, Manoa and I invite you to join us for some light food and refreshments at the Swamp Restaurant,1624 University Avenue, right across from campus.

Bring friends from your dorm, from home, from class, and people you just met to come stop by, relax and meet fellow Jewish students. All we ask is that you come enjoy some FREE food and drinks and have a great time.

If you have any questions please contact me–Alex at

You can also view the event on Facebook here –invite all your friends to it as well.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Shabbos is coming!

When I came to Hillel that first Friday night as a freshman back in the Fall of ‘09, I did so because I wanted to continue to experience the Shabbat that I had at home and during my three years in USY (United Synagogue Youth group). I went in nervous, but excited and observed the room while quietly chatting with some people I knew. It was not until dinner that I began to feel more comfortable, offering up my name and major to the Rabbi that was walking around introducing himself and the other freshman sitting at our table, some of whom I already knew. Still, I didn’t know if this was something that I would continue to attend. I decided to go that next Shabbat and I am glad that I did because I continued to meet new people that would later become some of my closest friends. While I had a nice time that first Shabbat, I am truly happy that I gave it a second chance. That Shabbat, the one after that, and the one after that for the last three years has given me so much perspective on what it means to be a Jew today.

Now, as I begin my senior year, I have become incredibly nostalgic about the time I have spent here at the University of Florida. I am constantly reminded of the friends I have made, the laughs I have shared, and the challah I have gorged on at Hillel. On that note, I encourage you and your friends to join us for the first Shabbat of the semester at Hillel tonight. 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 8:30pm. It’s just like the one your Bubbe used to make. You can join us for services or just for dinner, either way we would love to celebrate the end of the first school week with you!

Shabbat Shalom,

Sarah Pila