What We Do
Goucher Hillel is committed to the Jewish value of learning throughout life. Goucher Hillel aims to help students access the deep array of Jewish wisdom and ultimately weave their own voices into life’s most meaningful and timeless conversations.
This year, the menu of Jewish learning opportunities at Goucher College is expanding to include regular text-based and topical discussions with Rabbi Darren and Avital Levin of the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus. Talmud (rabbinic literature), Parshat Ha-Shavua (the weekly Torah portion), conversational Hebrew, and spirituality are often studied in any given week in the Weinberg Jewish Student Center, and Jewish content infuses much of our programming.
Hillel is Goucher’s largest and most active student club. We welcome Goucher students of all faiths (and none!), ethnicities, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and ages to participate in any of our on-campus events.
Goucher Hillel is not a membership organization. Our community is strengthened by every authentic relationship it fosters. Whether you are curious about a Jewish custom, yearning for a taste of home, or looking for a comfortable place to study or relax, please consider yourself personally invited to hang out in the Weinberg Jewish Student Center, attend events, and, of course, ask questions.
Secular Jewish thinker Achad Ha’am famously wrote, “More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people.” Our campus community prides itself on creating a Shabbat environment that allows Goucher students to find a home base, a chance to relax, and a way to spiritually refuel. Our intimate Friday evening services and festive Friday night dinners are a hallmark of the Goucher College experience for students of all backgrounds, and routinely draw 30-40 students. The camaraderie, the singing, and the special food contribute to a truly special weekly campus tradition. Saturdays are spent in relaxation: hanging out in the Shabbat-friendly Weinberg Jewish Student Center, playing board games, studying the Torah portion, and occasionally holding Saturday morning services. Thanks to support from the Crane Foundation, Goucher Hillel’s Shabbat programming is being enhanced this year with Shabbaton visits from rabbinical students twice each semester.
The Jewish calendar establishes a rhythm to the year that follows the seasons and times in our people’s history. Goucher Hillel aims to make students aware of these rhythms and enable students to fully celebrate the holidays on campus. Rabbi Josh and Yona lead high holiday services on campus for both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in the fall. We have at least two sukkot on campus for the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), and we dance festively each year on Simchat Torah. Students gather nightly in Hillel to light the candles for Hannukah—often a welcome study break as final exams draw near. In the spring, students read the megillah and party for Purim; participate in student- and staff-led Passover sedarim (the kosher dining hall has Kosher for Passover meals for the entire holiday); and observe the cycle of late-spring holidays marking Holocaust Remembrance and Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days with public commemorations. All of these celebrations are communal and inclusive of all affiliations.
Hillel seeks to facilitate students’ engagement with Israel in all its complexity and profundity. Through free, 10-day Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, Hillel gives many Goucher students a first-time firsthand encounter with Israel. Hillel creates multiple forums for discussion of current events in Israel, dialogue addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and explorations of Israel’s culture through writing, art, food, and music. A Hebrew language table convenes weekly in Hillel as well.
In September 2011, Goucher hosted one of twenty Talk Israel tents across North America. A project of the Schusterman International Center’s Center for Israel Engagement, the day-long event created a space for civil discourse and informative conversation around Israel.
Goucher Hillel is deeply committed to pursuing social justice, being doubly impelled by Jewish tradition and Goucher’s community principles. Through Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break programs abroad and within the United States, Goucher students immerse themselves in the hands-on work and study of tzedek. We strive to live out tzedek-based values by thinking globally and acting locally: volunteering in Baltimore, engaging in advocacy campaigns, being ethical consumers, and bettering our corner of the world for all its residents.
Hillel sends student volunteers multiple times a week to the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, in close partnership with Goucher’s service-learning and community-based learning offices. Sustainability and responding to a community’s articulated needs are guiding principles of Goucher Hillel’s tzedek work. In 2012-2013, a tzedek-focused student intern will build capacity on campus for students of all backgrounds to reflect upon, discuss, and learn from their volunteer experiences.
Kosher Meal Plan
Goucher’s Kosher Dining Hall is housed in the Weinberg Jewish Student Center in Stimson Hall. Goucher offers a full kosher meal plan, which can be purchased here. Students on any of Goucher’s meal plans may eat one meal a week prepared in the kosher kitchen. Students may also sign up for kosher meals for the duration of the week of Passover. Any food (kosher or otherwise) may be brought into the Weinberg Jewish Student Center, a popular mealtime destination for those wishing to have a quieter dining experience than the larger dining halls offer. The kosher kitchen and buffet line are governed by strict kosher supervision; the kitchen is the only area where food and dishes from outside of the kosher kitchen are not permitted.
Minor in Judaic Studies
Judaic Studies at Goucher is an innovative and interdisciplinary program that offers students the opportunity to explore, examine, and critically engage the rich and multifaceted history, religion, and cultures of the Jewish people. Multiple Judaic Studies courses are taught each semester; learn more here, and be sure to consult Goucher’s schedule of classes for the most up-to-date scheduling information. Lectures and other open-to-the-public events are often jointly sponsored by Goucher Hillel and the Judaic Studies program.