Hillel’s fellowship encourages Greek involvement

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By Jessica Fischberg, for the Mitzpeh@jfischberg

Students attend Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi’s Cupcake Wars on Feb. 22. Cupcake Wars is an example of the programming Hillel creates to engage with Jewish students in Greek life. Photo courtesy of Jessie Cohen.

This year, Talia Orencel, the new director of engagement and social justices at Maryland Hillel, will run the Jews in Greek Life fellowship created three years ago to continue the strong relationship between Hillel and Greek life on campus, according to Maiya Chard-Yaron, the assistant director of Maryland Hillel.

Each semester, Hillel partners with Jewish Greek chapters to host programs such as Shabbat dinners, barbecues, discussion programs, volunteer days and more. Many students in Greek life participate in Hillel programs such as Birthright Israel, Alternative Break, and local service learning programs, Chard-Yaron said.

According to Hillel’s official website, Jews in Greek Life fellows seek to unite Jewish Greeks by reviewing opportunities for community-building and cultivating strong peer leaders. The fellows build leadership skills that allow them to foster growth in both the Greek and Jewish communities on campus.

“Maryland Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi have a very strong relationship,”said Raquel Weinberg, the Jewish Outreach chair for Alpha Epsilon Phi. “Many of the sisters are interested in the programs and opportunities that Hillel has to offer because it is a Jewish affiliated sorority.”

As Jewish outreach chair for Alpha Epsilon Phi, Weinberg’s job is to plan events with Hillel, act as the sorority representative at Hillel and encourage members to attend Hillel sponsored events. Alpha Epsilon Phi will continue to plan events with Hillel, the sophomore behavioral and community health major said.

Even though  Orencel will organize a lot of programming with Greek students, many other Hillel staff members will also work closely with fraternities and sororities, Chard-Yaron said. Hillel respects the close bonds that each chapter forms within themselves, but it also hopes to connect the chapters with the Jewish community, life and learning through programming.

Hillel not only works with Jewish affiliated chapters, but also with Jewish students in chapters that are not Jewish-affiliated. Hillel has done many cultural education programs in those houses to help Jewish students share their cultural and religious traditions with other students in their chapter, Chard-Yaron said.

“Hillel is very good at reaching out to Jewish students in Greek life and encouraging them to go on Birthright and to participate in other Jewish programs on campus,” Weinberg said.

This past summer, Hillel sponsored two Greek Birthright buses, in addition to another Birthright bus of students not in Greek life. Hillel looks forward to continuing its Greek Birthright program every year, Chard-Yaron said.

“This is the third year of the Jews in Greek Life program and we are excited for it to continue to grow and provide opportunities for Jewish students in Greek life to build community and connect with Judaism on their own terms,” Chard-Yaron said.

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