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FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Hillel and the Jewish Life program at the University of Richmond.

How many Jewish students are there at the University of Richmond?

It is difficult to say with complete accuracy. The percentage of Jewish students is at least 5%. We find out about a Jewish student if they self-disclose or if they self-identify on the Common Application during the admissions process. Our incoming class has 6.5% self-identified Jewish students (a 30% increase of self-identified students) and likely there are more that have yet to identify. We expect to see these numbers grow in the near future.

What kind of student programs does the University of Richmond Hillel offer?

Judaism has never been a monolith; there has never been a singular understanding of what it means to be Jewish. In order to respect the many ways Judaism resonates for students, we think of our programming within a Five Platforms model. This model provides substantive programming in five important aspects of Jewish tradition: Ritual/Prayer, Study/Torah, Social Action/Tzedek (Justice), Culture, and Israel. 

For examples of our current programming, please view our Jewish Life page.
How do students get involved with Hillel?
Hillel is not a club to join, but rather an open community where students can freely discuss and experience their Jewish identity. If you are a current student and want to receive emails about the events and programs we sponsor, please let us know.
Is there kosher dining on campus?

The University of Richmond's Heilman Dining Center and Catering were the Grand Prize winners at the National Association of University Food Services 2010 Dining Awards. The Heilman Dining Center also captured third place in the Vegan Recipe Awards category. The Princeton Review named the University of Richmond to its list of top 20 colleges with the best food.

Though we are currently unable to offer full-service kosher foods, our students have chosen to keep kosher while at UR by enjoying the many delicious vegan and vegetarian options available in all of our eateries on campus.
What is Shabbat like at UR?

Every week we meet to welcome Shabbat as a community on campus.  We light the candles, say the Kiddush and motzi, sing songs, share stories, and share our lives.  Also, we will often have dinners, formal or informal, and other opportunities to continue the Shabbat experience with the Jewish community on campus. 

What are holiday observances like at the University of Richmond?
Because so much of the Jewish Holidays involve communal celebration, at UR we encourage community around these ritual celebrations either by marking these holidays through events on campus or accommodating students to access the Jewish resources of greater Richmond as a group. On campus, we have a sukkah for our Sukkot celebration, nightly Chanukah candle lighting, and our Passover Seder.  For the High Holidays, we connect as a community to the different congregations in the Richmond area.
Can prospective students visit the University of Richmond and meet with the Jewish Life Advisor or current students?

Absolutely! Please see the Office of Admissions’ page to explore the ways to visit the campus and be in contact with a current student. Once you have a visit scheduled, contact Josh Jeffreys, Interim Jewish Life Advisor in the Chaplaincy. 

What social justice and community service opportunities does Hillel have?

As a group, Hillel will volunteer in direct service projects, fundraisers, and other opportunities in partnership with other student groups on campus.  For our students, we try to encourage an ongoing relationship with one group to develop a relationship to a specific population or group.  The University of Richmond Hillel has developed a relationship with Jewish Family Services of Richmond and we expect this relation to deepen over the coming years.  If you are interested in Social Action with the University of Richmond Hillel, contact our Hillel Social Action Coordinator, Benjamin Pomerantz.

As a University, we are lucky to have the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement whose sole purpose is to encourage substantive volunteer opportunities in the greater Richmond community.

How is Hillel connected to the University community?

The Jewish Life Program is a part of the Office of the Chaplaincy and the Hillel group is a student religious group through the Chaplaincy. As a result, Jews, like every religious group, are fully integrated into campus life.  It means that our students get to use university facilities, including the wonderful multifaith space in the Wilton Center.  More importantly, it ensures that the students don’t feel like their Judaism is something separating them from their peers.  At the University of Richmond, we strive that our students’ religious identities are integrated into their holistic college experience.

How active is the Hillel at UR?

As you can see from the other FAQs and the rest of the Jewish Life website, there are a lot of great things happening on campus!  We are creating a constantly evolving masterpiece that is geared to meet the unique needs of the students present on any given year. So, if you are looking to get involved and help shape the face of Hillel in the present and for future Spiders, we would love to have you get involved!  

Is there any anti-Semitism on campus?

In short, no!

For anti-Semitism to thrive on campus there has to be a culture of ignorance and apathy... these are two things that the University of Richmond is lacking.  Our students are encouraged to learn, explore differences, and challenge themselves.  Furthermore, we have a wonderful administration which encourages a deep sense of openness and inclusion for all on campus.  If there were any issues, we have a bias incident team that investigates and responds to incidents of discrimination or hate crimes if they occur.

I'm interested in going to Israel. Can I get there from the University of Richmond?

Yes. First, the Office of the Chaplaincy offers a Pilgrimage Program which takes a multifaith group of students to a place of religious conflict and possibility or to a place of social division and reconciliation with religious implications. In the past we have been to Israel, Taize community in France, Poland, Morocco, South Korea, and the United Kingdon. In the future we plan to return to some of these locations while also exploring new destinations worldwide. 

Second, students can study abroad at the University of Haifa as part of the outstanding Office of International Education Semester Abroad program

Also, Hillel participates in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. Jewish students between the ages of 18-26 who have not been on a peer trip to Israel are eligible for a free trip. Hillel can also help you find other opportunities for travel or study in Israel.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

For general questions, please contact Josh Jeffreys, Interim Jewish Life Advisor.

Also, if you have any questions for our Hillel leadership, please be in touch with them.  The 2016–17 Hillel leadership team's contact information is listed below:

Oversight Coordinator: Jimmy Bernstein
Education Coordinator: David Brown
Outreach Team Captain: Collin Zucker
Ritual Coordinator: Hannah Stein
Social Action & Publicity Coordinator: Benjamin Pomerantz
Prospective Students Coordinator: Holden Powers
Social Media Coordinator: Anna Lowenthal
On-Campus Relations Coordinator: Maddie Miller