By Kaitlyn Hopkins
The Committee for Jewish Collaboration is considered by some to be a hidden gem within the Maryland Hillel community. This committee of students isn’t well known but aims to “strengthen the pluralistic community at Maryland Hillel and celebrate its diversity through events, programs, and dialogue,” according to its website.
The CJC is small, with only five members including two co-chairs, Aliza Silverman, a junior Jewish studies major, and Becky Rosansky, a senior public policy major. Although the committee’s sphere of influence is mainly within the community of Hillel leadership, its members are actively working to change this.
“I’m relatively active within the Hillel community,” said Sarah Joseph, a junior communications major. “I find myself there at least once a week for services or for some other external programming, and through the people that I encounter there, through regular announcements and stuff, I’ve definitely heard of CJC.”.
According to its Facebook page, the CJC’s goal is to “create and foster meaningful Jewish experiences for people of all backgrounds.”
Silverman said, “We decided to make our goal getting people in Hillel to understand each other first, and then to make it a comfortable environment for people that were already in Hillel.”
Ben Panitch, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice and special education major, had never heard of the CJC.
“I’m not very involved with Hillel, I go maybe once or twice a year, so I don’t know too much about them,” he said. “But the CJC definitely sounds like something I could get involved in.”
The CJC is a pluralistic organization. Silverman explained that pluralistic refers to the different ways that people practice Judaism.
“Hillel has students from a wide variety of Jewish denominations, whether it be Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or other denominations, or some people who don’t affiliate with any,” Silverman said.
So, as a pluralistic community, the CJC strives to plan events that pertain to all of the Jewish denominations present in Hillel.
Silverman said her favorite part about being a co-chair is seeing how happy people are when they leave an event with something they didn’t know before.
“I just really like when people say afterward, ‘Wow! This is really interesting. I want to keep talking about this,’” she said. “The first year I ran the pluralism lunch, people came up to us after, saying that they kept the conversation going for about two hours after the event – which was really great to hear.”
Many of the programs offered ran by CJC are dialogue or education based. Every year, during the fall semester on Sukkot’s shabbat, they have a themed, pluralism lunch. The CJC also collaborates with student groups in Hillel, like Hamsa, this university’s Jewish Gay-Straight Alliance, with whom they’ve previously held Shabbat dinners.
The CJC will be inviting a Reconstructionist rabbi from Greenbelt to campus for an event on Dec. 1.