By Uyen Nguyen
For the Mitzpeh
Maryland Hillel hosted the 2016 Family Weekend this past week. Ninety families attended Family Weekend this year, “a 25 percent increase from last year,” said Shuli Tropp, Hillel’s director of institutional advancement.
Since this university’s Family Weekend usually falls on Yom Kippur, Maryland Hillel hosts its annual event during the first weekend of November for the university’s Jewish parents, Tropp said. The weekend-long event took place from Nov. 4-6 this year.
The variety of events that were held during Maryland Hillel’s Family Weekend were created so that the parents were able to come experience the university’s Jewish culture firsthand. They were also able to see what their children have accomplished in the Jewish community as part of Hillel, according to Tropp.
The weekend kicked off with candle lighting and a mincha at 5:45 p.m. on Friday at the Rosenbloom Hillel Center. This was followed by a Shabbat dinner that included a sermon by Rabbi Aderet Drucker, as well as entertainment from the university’s Jewish a capella groups.
Friday’s events ended at 10 p.m. Following dessert, Rabbi Shai Held and Rabbi Alex Tsykin held shiur and tish with Rav Yonaton Hirschhorn in the center’s game room.
Saturday marked the weekend’s busiest day, starting at 7:45 a.m. in the Hillel Center with breakfast for the families, along with a morning service.
A Shabbat lunch was provided at 12:30 p.m. with families filling nearly every seat in the Hillel center. Parents chatted with their children and the Hillel staff about updating the interior of the Hillel center, which students repainted Sunday for Good Deeds Day.
After lunch, Rabbis Alex and Ahuva Tsykin spoke about the Torah behind Aaron Yehudah. Rabbi Ari Israel also spoke about Terach’s Zionism versus Rav Kook’s Zionism.
Before the night’s main event began, Hillel hosted Jewish prayer services – maariv and havdalah – in the Hillel center’s lobby.
The highlight of Family Weekend was Saturday night’s a capella concert at Memorial Chapel, with performances by some of this university’s Jewish a capella groups. These groups included Rak Shalom, Kol Sasson, the Gefilte Fish Falsettos and Mezumenet.
The crowd was filled with students and their families during these performances. They all roared with laughter when Mezumenet performed their parody of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom,” which they changed to “Rabbi’s Son.”
“The Rabbi’s son has got it going on/ did your son get back from his birthright place?” they sang.
The weekend came to a close on Sunday with Good Deeds Day – a day of philanthropy for Hillel. It consisted of eight events total, said Talia Orencel, Hillel’s director of social justice and engagement, and host of Good Deeds Day.
One of the most important events of the day, according to Orencel, was the food and clothes drive. With the help of 100 students, Challah for Hunger, Hillel’s community service group, and the Hunger Van, a charity that works with other volunteer groups to donate food and essential items to the homeless, were able to deliver sandwiches, snack packs and winter clothes to the homeless in Washington, D.C.
“It was a time for the families [of these students] to see what they’re involved in, and that they’re doing amazing work like this,” Orencel said. “I’m so proud of what they were able to accomplish today.”