By Jackie Budko
For LGBT students, finding a place to fit in on this university’s campus can be hard, which is why Hamsa was created for this sector of the Jewish community.
“Coming in as a freshman, I had a lot of friends in the organization who were juniors and seniors and helped me fit into the community,” said Jacob Elspas, a junior computer science major and Hamsa executive board member. “I wanted to get involved and build the organization up.”
Today, the ice cream socials are still Hamsa’s most popular events, which Hamsa holds two to three times a semester, usually at Hillel. Sometimes they are only for the LGBT community, but other times the events are for LGBT and allies.
“It’s just a nice way to get people to come who are not part of the Hillel, but they’re Jewish,” Elspas said . “They’re still trying to figure out their identity, and we want people to know that we’re here and we want you to come [to our events].”
Every semester, Hamsa hosts a Shabbat dinner where they partner with other schools with similar organizations and has a guest speaker talk to both Hamsa members and anyone who attends the event.
“We’re testing the field to see what people are interested in because it’s a small group,” Hamsa president Avi Alpert said, a sophomore computer science major.
In the organization, there are about 30 people, and it’s growing.
“We do an ice cream social early in the semester so that everyone can meet each other,” Alpert said. “Then we have an event at the end of the semester like HannuKaraoke,” an event where members of Hamsa come together for a karaoke session to relax before final exams and papers take over.
Hamsa is an organization that is open to all sexualities. “A lot people think that our organization is only for gays,” Elspas said. “But we don’t want to segregate the community; we want to bridge that gap and have everyone be united.”
Recently, Hamsa tested a new strategy to market their organization. “We’ve been broadening our brand with a new logo one of our board members designed: a Hamsa that also has a rainbow,” Elspas said. Zev Shields, a member of the Hamsa executive board designed the logo.
Next semester, Hamsa members are trying to institute biweekly support group meetings led by other Hamsa members.
“We are pretty proud of who we are, and we want to be outspoken in the Hillel community,” Elspas said. “We believe talking to others can really provide a sense of community.”
Matanya Loewenthal, a freshman computer engineering major, agreed with Elspas’ sentiments.
He heard about Hamsa from another member of the organization and is happy he found a community that is welcoming to his sexuality.
“I really like the sense of community of Hamsa, and I will be checking out more of their events next semester,” he said.
**CORRECTION: This article spelled Hamsa as “Hamsu” twice. It has been fixed.