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  • Ski Retreat 2019 - Creating Memories, Friendships and Opportunities for Exploration

    Feb 06, 2019
    Maddie Anderson, a sophomore Advertising Major at UO
    from Kansas City, Missouri, was one of 82 students who attended Oregon Hillel’s Ski retreat in Sun River this year. Maddie is a non-Jewish student at the University of Oregon and was encouraged to attend her first Hillel event by her friends who are active in Hillel. Maddie was motivated to go because she saw how passionate one of her friends is about this community and wanted to support her in something she cared so much about. She said that she had been inspired to go because she had heard about how much fun her friends had had at ski retreat the year before. 

    “I had so much fun. I knew it was going to be a good time but I was not expecting it to be as fun as it was”. Maddie also felt very welcome and like she could talk to anyone. “I made friends with people I wouldn’t have met outside of this and felt like I made very strong friendships in just the three days we were there.” 

    Maddie was nervous about the religious aspect but came in curious about Judaism and the culture surrounding it. “I just keep coming back to the word welcoming,” she says. She felt very accepted and comfortable despite not being Jewish. Maddie enjoyed making new friends along with getting to experience Judaism. “Hillel is a great community of people, you don’t get that instant connection with other groups”. 

    Megan Weissman is a freshman from Oak Park, CA majoring in Business at the University of Oregon and after attending a couple of Shabbats at Hillel she came with us to ski retreat in Sun River! Megan heard about ski retreat from a friend so when the email went out for sign-ups, she decided to go. “I wanted to see more of Oregon because I haven’t really been off campus yet and I wanted to see the snow”.

    Megan did BBYO and went on Jewish retreats growing up and was looking for a way to continue that connection to Judaism in college. “I liked the day trips to Bend and Sun River Village and I especially enjoyed the Israeli shuk!”. One of the nights student leaders & staff set up a shuk with Israeli food and desserts. To get sheckles you had to go to the ‘ATM’ where you answered questions about Israel to get money to spend at the market. 

    Megan met new people and was able to bond with the friends she had already made at Hillel. “Hillel is good to have on campus as a place to meet other Jewish students. You know you can always go there and hang out with people with common interests, whether it’s for dinner or a full ski retreat.” Megan wants to keep coming back for more Hillel events and go on ski retreat again next year!

    Ski Retreat truly is a a place for students to build their community, connect with other students and gain inspiration to continue or start their Jewish journey or exploration of Judaism.

  • Traditional Foods for Hanukkah

    Dec 09, 2018

    Food is an important part of everyday life.  Whether it be though socializing with friends and family, or cooking your own meals, it continuously brings people together.  Hanukkah is no different. With foods like latkes and sufganiyot, how can people resist? Because of the Hanukkah story, where there was a miracle of oil lasting eight days instead of one, many of these traditional foods are fried.  If latkes and jelly donuts are intimidating to make, do not worry! There are some alternatives like buying Manischewitz latke mix or going to Krispy-Kreme for a jelly filled donut.

    There are many different ways to top off a latke.  My personal favorites are applesauce or sour cream, while other options include lox or eating it on its own.  A traditional potato latke typically includes:

    Shredded potatoes




    Salt and pepper, to taste

    Another traditional food is sufganiyot, a jelly filled donut.  Do you have a favorite type of jelly? Raspberry? Strawberry? Fill them yourself and you can make it personalized, just how you want it!. This year, Hillel hosted a sufganiyot bake!  Another way that Hanukkah has brought our community together. Making the batter, frying and filling the donuts, it was a night filled with laughs and a great way to bring the term to a close.

    I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the hard work Brittany Furiate, the Assistant Director of Oregon Hillel, has dedicated over the past two years.  As her time here will soon come to a close, we wish you all the best in Portland. There are many exciting things coming your way and we all look forward to seeing how you continue to grow and brighten the lives of the people you meet.  We’ll miss you, but are only a two-hour drive away!

    We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable winter break!  Looking forward to seeing what is to come next year and hope to see many new and familiar faces.

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

    Written by Samantha Katzeff

    Class of 2020

  • History of Hanukkah

    Dec 03, 2018


    Hanukkah this year begins on December 2, 2018 and end December 10, 2018. With the holiday falling during finals week, it has the opportunity to bring some light into a stressful time for many students.  What is Hanukkah all about? Many stories told about Hanukkah share how there was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one night, but it lasted for eight nights. A Hanukkah miracle as many call it.

    Ezra Samuels, a sophomore at UO, teaches a Talmud Torah class at Temple Beth Israel in Eugene.  It focuses on the history of Hanukkah. Many people believe that Hanukkah is celebrated because of the oil lasting eight days, while Ezra’s class focuses on “the war with King Antiochus IV's army - which included assimilated Jews -  in the 2nd century BCE.” The war “was fought in an attempt to preserve Jewish culture at a time when Judaism was illegal, and many Jews were assimilating into Greek culture.” After exploring the different story behind Hanukkah, Ezra’s class ends on a more positive note.  It discusses “Hanukkah traditions from around the world, and how Jewish culture came to thrive and evolve into what we now know as Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrachi Judaism.” The message behind this is that there are many ways to show your Judaism. Ezra believes that “we have an international community that can help us all learn and grow and cultivate Jewish identities that are meaningful to us.”

    What is the main takeaway of the Hanukkah story overall?  Ezra put it in a way that I could not have said better myself. “Strength does not always come in numbers, but in perseverance. The Maccabees were a small militia in the hills, and while they suffered many losses, they ultimately won the war, and even negotiated peace with the Greek empire shortly thereafter. By all forms of logic, the Jews should not have won, but their perseverance and their Hanukkah (which literally means "dedication") gave them the strength to stand up for their beliefs, stand up for their faith, and save their people.”

    As we go into the holiday this year, some of my favorite traditions include spinning the dreidel, eating latkes and lighting the menorah.  For Ezra, these traditions include eating latkes, the klezmer music, and dreidel.  What are some of your family’s traditions?

    Written by Samantha Katzeff
    University of Oregon
    Class of 2020
  • Reflecting on Pittsburgh

    Nov 12, 2018

    It has been a couple of weeks since the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue and I am still left with lots of emotions and questions about this recent tragedy. It has unfortunately become common to hear on the news that there was a shooting somewhere, but this one hits close to home.  It could have been me, any of my friends, family members or colleagues sitting in that room and our whole lives would have been turned upside down. It is now the friends and family of the 11 that were taken too soon who are left with this horrible feeling. A feeling I cannot imagine, yet I feel their pain too. I believe it is important to reflect on how beautiful it is to come together as a community after a tragedy and not let this act of hate steer people away from showing their Jewish pride.


    On October 27, 2018, 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In the week following, communities around the world, including Oregon Hillel at UO came together for a memorial service, to in honor the victims of this tragic attack.  During Oregon Hillel’s interfaith memorial, attended by over 100 people, many community members spoke from their heart. The service was an opportunity to say prayers, light memorial candles and write letters to the grieving Squirrel Hill community.  Seth Murawsky, student and active member of the Jewish community, shared with me how these recent events have affected him. “The events that unfolded were not only tragic for the Jewish people, but also tragic for the entirety of the United States. The loss of 11 members of the Jewish community has been very personal for me and has given me time to reflect on who I am as a Jew. I consider the Jewish community to be a second family to me. Similar to my biological family, I know that the Jewish community across the world is there for me, no matter what corner of the globe I find myself in.  That being said, the tragedy felt like an assault on my family, but I did not respond with anger. While the incident does bring up fear in my mind, it brings up an even greater feeling of love for my community.”

    After attending this memorial service myself and having time to reflect, I realize that it is imperative to use your voice to stand up for the Jewish people and prove this will not silence you.  Wear your pride loud and clear, in the hopes of fighting anti-Semitism, which is what Seth and many others, will continue to do. “I know that no matter what, I will continue to wear a kippah on my head and a mezuzah near my heart and continue to say, “we will not go away.”  Jews and non-Jews alike have gathered across the country not just in mourning for those we have lost, they’ve also gathered to symbolically say “we will not go away.” Through the gathering of all kinds of people, which I have seen a great deal of over the last several days, the love we show for each other will prove to triumph over the evils of hatred and bigotry.”

    Coming together as a community, whether it be through Hillel, Chabad, Akiva, continuing to live with your Jewish values, etc, all matter and are beautiful expressions of community.  Continue to wear your star of david, your hamsa, kippah, tzit tzit, anything showing support and solidarity for the Jewish community, to take a stand and rise up from this hateful act.  Carly Pildis, writer for the Tablet magazine said something I could not put into better words myself. She states, “We need to slow down and remember what this was: An attack on a synagogue. An attack on Jews while they prayed. An act of anti-Semitic violence against a community that refuses to be silenced.”  Use your voice, rise above the hate, and remember that no matter where you go, someone will be there to help you through this difficult time.

    Please know that there is a community here in Oregon that is always here to help in any way you may need.  Our doors are open to anyone who needs a space to grieve, to process what you've experienced, and are looking to come together with friends and community. We are a home away from home for students who are away from their families, and are here for you, whatever you need.

    David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill (brother of Cecil Rosenthal)

    Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill (brother of David Rosenthal)

    Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

    Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood

    Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington

    Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

    Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

    Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg (married to Sylvan Simon)

    Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg (married to Bernice Simon)

    Melvin Wax, 87, of Squirrel Hill

    Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill

    ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת

    Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam, dayan ha-emet.

    "Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Judge of Truth”

    Written by Samantha Katzeff

    Class of 2020

  • Advice from Recent Graduates

    Oct 11, 2018

    Over 2017-2018 school year, The Oregon Hillel Foundation thrived on both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University campuses. Our annual report illustrates that we helped provide 288 Jewish leadership experiences, 508 matzo ball soups deliveries, 367 Jewish holiday experiences, 79 Israel engagement events or programs, and 1,640 Shabbat dinners served throughout the year. 

    One of our organization's main goals is bringing people together, building a community and making friendships. The graduating senior class of 2018 has helped Oregon Hillel grow and become what it is today.  The graduating class of 2018 embodies the successes of these goals, so we interviewed a few of them to see how Jewish life on campus has affected their time at the University of Oregon.

    Having been on board as president during the 2016-2017 school year, Jake Monasch has enjoyed the opportunities Hillel has provided him with. “Jewish life has had a major effect on my college life. Being a part of a strong community has helped me stay true to my religious roots as well as having a strong group of friends.”

    Elysa Gurman, a current Political Science major and Judaic Studies minor, has also found many of her friends in college through Jewish life. “I always wanted to go to a school that had a strong Jewish community because I knew I would be able to find people there. And I did. Most of my best friends in college I met through Jewish organizations. Most of my Friday nights were spent at a Shabbat dinner. The coolest experiences I have had came to me via Jewish organizations.”

    Arianna Shapiro, a Las Vegas native and accounting and economics major, found her closest friends through the Jewish community and was an active participant in several Jewish organizations on campus. “I have also had a lot of my leadership experience through the Jewish community, from Hillel and Akiva board to President of the Jewish Student Union and Director of Consulting for Tamid, a Business group that does Consulting and Investing work with Israeli companies. I have truly found my community at the University of Oregon through the Jewish life on campus and wouldn’t have traded it for anything!”

    This class has also had the opportunity to take part in volunteer opportunities which Jake sees as some of his favorite memories through the years. “My favorite event I have attended is Food for Lane County. I have always had a strong connection with community service and that event has furthered my passion for it” says Jake. While others favorite memories are making Jewish holidays come to life on campus. Arianna’s favorite memory is “The Israel Block Party because I put my heart and soul into planning and making that event happen for the first time. I loved seeing all of the different organizations join forces to put on one amazing event that education Jewish and Non-Jewish students about Israeli culture. I hope to see this event live on for years to come!”

    Bringing people to Israel is another aspect of Hillel’s mission and Elysa had the opportunity to partake in a Birthright trip a few years ago. “I went on Birthright with Hillel as a freshman in 2014. That was a very transformative experience for me as well. It strengthened my connection to Israel a lot. But the highlights for me were, again, the friendships and connections that I made with people.”


    Samantha Katzeff
    University of Oregon Class of 2020
    Eugene, Oregon


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Oregon Hillel

1059 Hilyard Street
Eugene, OR 97401-3716
(541) 343-8920


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