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  • Exciting Changes Happening at Oregon Hillel

    May 25, 2018

    The Oregon Hillel Foundation is excited to welcome the 2018-2019 student leadership board at the University of Oregon. We would also like to take this opportunity to announce our acceptance and upcoming participation in the Design Thinking Lab, a cohort facilitated by Tulane Hillel and Hillel International.

    Student Board President: Erica Kopf, Class of 2019 
    Fundraising Chair: Rachel Renshaw, Class of 2020
    Religious and Cultural Chair: Seth Murawsky, Class of 2021
    Social Media Chair: Jessica Kirshner, Class of 2020
    Public Relations Chairs: Emma Spaeth & Samantha Katzeff, Class of 2020
    Tzedek Social Justice Chair: Sarah Birch & Maddie Newman, Class of 2021
    Freshman Outreach Chair: Allison Granet & Bill Braker, Class of 2021
    Israel Chair: Rayna Zohar, Class of 2019
    Shabbat Chair: Maurissa Rapp, Class of 2021
    Green Chair: Zoe Light, Class of 2019

    Our new student board members are excited to serve Hillel and further immerse themselves in the Jewish community here at the University of Oregon. These student leaders have a wide range of backgrounds and are here from all over the country, from Georgia and Texas to the PNW. 

    This coming year Oregon Hillel is deliberately shaking things up and has expanded the student leadership board from five to thirteen students. This increase in student leadership better aligns with Hillel's vision of being a staff and student partnership. This shift in leadership responsibility creates a community for students, run by students.  Increasing the number of student leaders enables Hillel to hear more diverse student perspectives.

    The Oregon Hillel Foundation is also proud to announce that we have been selected for the second cohort of Tulane University Hillel’s Design Thinking Lab. This is a two year program designed to help Oregon Hillel reevaluate how Judaism and Jewish life are viewed on college campuses across the state of Oregon.  The goals of this program are to help identify the interests, passions and identities of students and in turn provide a community experience where students plan and drive all of Hillel’s programs. Brittany Lenhart, the Oregon Hillel Assistant Director, will be overseeing the program. During Fall quarter 2018 Hillel will be building a Design Thinking Committee of Creative Strategists to help direct this two year process. If you are a student interested in becoming involved, contact Brittany.

    Emma Spaeth
    University of Oregon, Class of 2020

  • When I leave Israel, it will only be a question of when I will return, not if

    Jan 30, 2017

    If someone had told me six months ago that I would wake up at 6:00 am in a Bedouin tent full of Ducks in the middle of the Negev Desert, I would not have believed it.  Yet there I was, looking out as the sun rose over the desert, sipping bitter Arabic coffee, and waiting to ride a camel train outside the Bedouin encampment. It was the start to beautiful day that included a hike up Masada and a dip in the Dead Sea.

    The camels infused the day with energy from the start. Everyone was laughing; brainstorming camel names (I was lucky to be riding Camela Anderson with Justin), and the 20-minute ride flew-by. We then boarded the bus for Masada. The mountain is breathtaking. After hiking up the Roman ramp, we gazed across the Dead Sea into Jordan and looked down on the eight Roman encampments that circle the mountain. The fortress came to life with five of us acting out various historical characters with fun scripts provided by Lilach for different locations on the mountain top; Alex took on the role of King Herod, while I had a little more fun as a Roman soldier.  

    The most powerful experience of Masada was the telling of the story of the Jews who took their own lives rather than suffer slavery under the Romans. In discussing the tale, Roberta mentioned that some families in Aleppo took their own lives rather than face rape and abuse by the advancing forces of Assad. Her sharing of the news from Aleppo was a reminder that the story of Masada not only speaks to the survival of the Jewish people, but also to how the Jewish people must care for the world, Tickun Olam.

    We descended Masada on the snake path, the winding trail a challenge as the desert sun continued its climb. The trail ended at a large Ahava factory store, the largest tourist trap in the Negev. After buying the necessary Dead Sea mud facemasks for friends at home, we grabbed lunch and then headed to the Dead Sea.

    The Dead Sea was stunning, freezing, and left many of us with soft skin and beat up toes. The beach was covered with salt crystals and everyone took advantage of the mud.  Wading out into the waters was treacherous, the bottom covered with rocks. But once we got far enough out, floating in the surprisingly warm water was surreal. The sun decided to disappear for our brief time in the water and the trek back from the beach was freezing. I’ll take it as a sign we need to come back over the summer and experience the Dead Sea in all its glory.

    The evening ended with a quick dinner and an evening program preparing for our trip to Yad Veshem. In small groups we discussed our family stories and personal experiences of anti-Semitism. It was sobering and enriching. I discovered that part of Nathan’s family had come over from what is now Moldova (formerly Bessarabia), the same area from which my great grandparents had escaped pogroms in the early 1900s. I also learned that my experience of anti-Semitism at U of O was not unique to the law school, but to the campus at large.

    The day was full, long, and one of the most fun of the trip. A day of desert sun was invigorating; especially after the harsh winter chill in Jerusalem and the rain we had in the north to start the trip.  It is hard to believe our journey is coming to a close so quickly. The time has flown by, but I know when I leave Israel, it will only be a question of when I will return, not if.

    Aaron Haynes
    University of Oregon Law School Class of 2018
    Anchorage, AK

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(541) 343-8920


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