By Daniel Oyefusi
Just weeks before Passover, Veronica Leifer made her way to the Queen Anne’s Hall front desk to receive a package. She was met with a box of items and treats, including matzah, chocolate, and other kosher items for the Passover holiday.
“I was super excited to receive my nosh box and I’m looking forward to making use of everything that’s in it,” said Leifer, a freshman biology and psychology major from Boston.
The Passover box is one of many nosh boxes available through the Maryland Hillel. Through this program, parents have the opportunity to send their children boxes throughout the year for various occasions, from fall move-in to spring final exams.
“Nosh boxes have been a part of the Maryland Hillel culture for a few years now,” said Alyssa Silva, programs and operations associate at Hillel. “The idea came about as a way for parents to easily send their students fun goodie bags with a Hillel touch for milestones in their student’s life like the beginning of school, finals, Passover, and of course birthdays.”
The program was designed for Jewish students and their parents, Silva said, connect while students are away from home. While it mainly serves Jewish students, the program is open to all students. Boxes are sent to residence halls, apartments, Greek homes and even off-campus homes.
“If you live out of state, you might not go home all that often,” said Jonathan Brande, who graduated from UMD in December with an astronomy degree and is on a research assistantship in the astronomy department. “I didn’t, and it was always nice when my parents got me the Hillel nosh boxes, because it would be the kind of stuff I wanted to get while I was home as a special occasion.”
On average, Hillel packages and delivers approximately 320 boxes filled with snacks and Hillel gear for fall move-in, fall finals, Passover and spring finals. Sixty more boxes will be sent out for birthdays, like the one Leifer received for her birthday in March.
“I first received a nosh box for my birthday, which was a total surprise and such a nice gift from Hillel and my parents,” Leifer said. “It has provided me with many much-needed snacks over this breadless week.”
Interested parents can send a box through Hillel’s parent newsletter or online through their website. They have the option of ordering an individual box or buying a four-package nosh box deal for a discounted price. Individual boxes range from $25-$36, depending on what specific items parents order for the box.
Once orders are placed, Silva orders the various treats and items for the respective boxes and works on packaging them.
“For fall finals, for instance, I ordered insulated grocery bags as the ‘box’ and filled it with stress balls, snacks, coloring books, coffee and more snacks,” Silva said. “Once myself and an intern have finished packing up each nosh box, we print out the message sent by the parent onto cards, and label each envelope with the address of the student.”
As spring finals approaches, Silva will get back to work, packaging similar items and treats for students as they prepare for exams, projects and papers.
“They are such a nice package to receive sporadically throughout the school year,” Leifer said. “I really appreciate the thought that both my parents put in into ordering them for me and that Hillel puts into choosing what relevant items to put in the nosh box.”