Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been included among the “Top 20 Small and Mighty Campuses of Excellence.” The list is collaboratively published in Reform Judaism magazine’s “7th Annual RJ Insider’s Guide to College Life,” in partnership with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
The publishers note that Hillel selected the 20 campuses based on “Innovative Jewish programming, a growing Jewish population, a dedicated professional leader, demonstrated university support, and a commitment to serve Jews of all backgrounds.”
Among the factors noted in the Colleges’ profile on the Hillel website are the facts that HWS have an affiliated Hillel organization on campus, available Kosher food and religious services, a Jewish studies minor, a Jewish educator on campus, and that students participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel.
“We are happy to have been recognized among our peer institutions that actively support Jewish life,” says Lorinda Weinstock, director of the Abbe Center and HWS Hillel adviser. “Our inclusion on this list is a testament to the efforts of students, faculty, staff and alums who have worked to build a strong Jewish community on campus and sense of place among our Jewish students.”
The Abbe Center for Jewish Life, home of HWS Hillel and The Jewish Culture Theme House, is the center of Jewish life on campus. Since its renovation in 2007 through a gift from former HWS Trustee Richard Abbe ’92 and his wife, Merav, Jewish life on campus has witnessed an undeniable growth in participation in all of its programming. The Abbe Center holds many events for the Jewish community throughout the year such as the Rosh Hashanah Eve dinner, the pre-fast dinner before Yom Kippur, meals in the Sukkah during the Sukkoth holiday, nightly Hanukkah celebrations, including the annual Fried Food Fest, a Passover Seder, and Holocaust Awareness Week programs. The events are open to all, regardless of religious affiliation. The spacious living and dining areas in the Abbe Center make it ideal for gatherings – formal meals, seminars, movies, and informal programming – sponsored by Hillel, The Abbe Center, academic departments or the theme house residents.
The Tina Wasserman Kosher Kitchen in the Abbe Center for Jewish Life allows for weekly Shabbat and holiday meals prepared in the kitchen by a professional chef. Wasserman, its namesake, is an accomplished author, food columnist, chef and award-winning cooking instructor who has visited campus to present culinary classes, lectures and a cookbook signing. The Tina Wasserman Kosher Kitchen was provided by HWS Trustee Dr. Richard Wasserman ’70 in honor of his wife, Tina, and the Wasserman Garden of Quiet Repose was a gift from Tina in honor of Richard.
Kosher Shabbat dinners are held on Friday evenings at the Abbe Center, with a typical gathering of 35 to 55 people. An informal kosher lunch and learn, prepared by staff, is also offered weekly in the Abbe Center.
In the spring of 2013, HWS Hillel invited community members to “Shabbat 250”, held in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. Two hundred and fifty students, faculty, staff and community members joined in celebrating Shabbat with a festive meal. The year prior, more than 200 people participated in the inaugural event, “Shabbat 200.”
Through an arrangement between the Religious Life Office and Temple Beth-El, Geneva, all Jewish students are members of the local synagogue, which is conveniently located across the street from the Abbe Center. This provides a variety of opportunities including the ability to teach or volunteer in Temple Beth-El’s Religious School.