By Kate McNee
As the majority of students leave the campus for the summer, various Jewish groups and organizations remain active, providing services and recreational activities for students staying in the area.
Jewish students can look out for the following opportunities that will be offered to those sticking around this summer:
While Hillel does not provide its kosher dining plan or any learning and volunteer opportunities during the summer, the organization keeps the building open for the entire summer. Staff members who stay in the area are also happy to assist the organization’s more than 30 student groups.
“Our programs [during the summer] are student-initiated and student-led,” said Maiya Chard-Yaron, Hillel’s director of educational engagement. “We will have staff around during the summer, and we hope that students in College Park for the summer will work with us to organize some great programs.”
Hillel places special focus during the summer on its trips abroad. In addition to its annual birthright trips to Israel, Hillel will offer an eight-day trip to Poland this year.
Stepping in for Hillel, Chabad offers Shabbat meals for lunch and dinner throughout the summer. It also offers after-dinner services, according to Nechama Backman, Chabad Rabbi Eli Backman’s wife.
“We essentially take over to fulfill the needs [of the students],” she said. “We don’t have services during the school year, but students know this is the place that they can get a meal. Any other need, we are here for them, we’re always here for every student.”
Junior Jewish studies major Robyn Kalwerisky, who has stayed in College Park during the summer in past years, said eating meals at Chabad is one of her favorite parts of the summer.
“Shabbat meals are a big part of the summer, just as they are during the year. Because it’s a smaller community, you end up eating with a lot of the same people frequently, giving you a chance to meet new people and make new friendships,” Kalwerisky said.
Outside of formal arrangements, Kalwerisky said the summer is a very social time for Jewish college students in general.
“I have made so many close friends over my summers here at Maryland, simply because the Jewish community is so small and you end up socializing with the same people all the time,” she said. “It’s a great way to branch out of the same clique you’re always with during the year and meet new people.”
Among many efforts by Jewish college students to bring the community together, Facebook groups and other online forums present an easy way for people to connect and find other students who are in College Park for the summer.
“I created [my] group so people will know who is around. If people want to get a group together to do something fun, it’s easy to,” Junior psychology major Tali Alter said of her Facebook group “Summer in College Park! JEWMD Style.” According to Alter, the current vice president of financial affairs for the Student Government Association, she has already planned more than 16 outdoor activities for the group.
Prayer services, Kalwerisky said, are another tradition that students continue to practice during the summer.
“Someone in the Jewish community is in charge of [prayer services], and they usually hold minyanim in central places, like the Commons 5 lounge. It’s mostly left up to the people that are going to be here to create the community,” she said.
Jewish students, and most of the campus, she said, can be found relaxing during the summer at the Eppley Recreation Center pool.
“On Saturday afternoons, the majority of people make their way over to the ERC for pool time! It’s kind of a summer-in-College Park tradition that after lunch on Shabbos, everyone goes to the pool. It’s a nice way to spend the long Shabbos afternoon, and it makes it easier to meet up with people,” she said.