WHAT IS THE JEWISH COMMUNITY LIKE AT GOUCHER? HOW LARGE IS THE JEWISH POPULATION?
There are close to 450 Jewish students at Goucher, about 30% of the total population of 1,484 undergraduate students. Like most colleges, the Jewish community on campus is quite diverse, both geographically and in terms of Jewish upbringing. At least 50% of the Jewish students, and many non-Jewish students, attend at least one Hillel event per month. Our community is intentionally pluralistic: we place significant value on students learning about different ways of expressing Jewish identity from one another. Between 10-20 students keep Kosher and are Shabbat observant, and utilize the Hillel Lounge as the primary location for both.
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES DOES HILLEL SPONSOR?
Hillel sponsors a wide array of activities, including, but not limited to:
IS THERE A HILLEL FACILITY ON CAMPUS?
Hillel has a dedicated lounge in Stimson Hall, across from the main campus dining hall. The lounge was renovated in the summer of 2014 and is equipped with versatile furnishings that allow it to be used as a dining facility, library/bet midrash, media center, or a meeting place. We have an outdoor patio and an office for the executive director. The kosher kitchen abuts the lounge. When renovations are fully complete, the lounge will also have an ark for our Torahs, a Judaica collection, and a web-enabled TV.
IS THERE KOSHER DINING ON CAMPUS?
Yes, a Kosher Dining Hall is adjacent to the Hillel Lounge in Stimson Hall, and it serves lunch and dinner every day of the week, including Shabbat and Holidays. Currently, there is a small surcharge for students to participate in the Kosher Dining Plan. Every Goucher student, however, is entitled to one Kosher meal per week, free of charge (usually Shabbat dinner). Kosher dining is under the supervision of Rabbi Y. Tzvi Weiss of Bais HaKnesses Ohr HaChaim.
WHAT ABOUT THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS?
Hillel enables students to celebrate holidays on campus with services and meals. There are on-campus services for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (link to pdf schedule here). We have a large sukkah for Sukkot, and celebrate Simchat Torah and Purim together with Towson Hillel. Passover offers us an opportunity to hold a communal Seder on the first nights, and to facilitate student-led seders on the second-night (with meals and training provided). We commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), and celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on campus.
WHAT IS SHABBAT LIKE AT GOUCHER?
Hillel holds Shabbat services and dinner each Friday. Services vary in style and denominational approach based on the student leading – they may be Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, or a mix of styles. They are usually egalitarian. Shabbat dinners have different themes and types of food depending on the week, but always a warm communal atmosphere where students are encouraged to unplug from technology and the stresses of the week and connect with one another. Students typically linger to sing, talk, or play board games. On Saturdays, there are currently periodically morning services (2-3 times per semester), and a relaxed atmosphere in the Hillel lounge that serves as a Shabbat-friendly home for all students. Students read, play games, eat, and talk.
CAN PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS COME TO GOUCHER AND STAY OVERNIGHT WITH A JEWISH STUDENT?
For those looking to stay with a student for Shabbat, contact Goucher Admissions to set up a visit (LINK HERE); they will contact Hillel and we will find a Shabbat host.
IS THERE A RABBI AT HILLEL OR ON CAMPUS?
Rabbi Josh Snyder, an ordained Reconstructionist Rabbi, is the full-time Executive Director and is on campus every weekday. He is available for chaplaincy, Jewish learning, or any other needs. Rabbi Mendy Rivkin of Chabad is on campus multiple times a week, and lives nearby at the Chabad Center of Towson and Goucher.