Reviews | Iowa Hillel works hard for his students
Although small, the University of Iowa Hillel does everything to serve its students.
The University of Iowa’s Jewish community is small, but Iowa Hillel does everything possible to create a welcoming home for its students. The Hillel fosters a welcoming community through a variety of services, including weekly homemade Shabbat dinners, Israeli cooking classes, educational services, and more.
Iowa Hillel is the foundation of Jewish life for students on campus, supporting all sects of Judaism as well as non-Jewish students. Executive Director Ashley Carol-Fingerhut said she works hard to make sure all students feel welcome and have a sense of community.
“We serve to provide a community where students can be shamelessly Jewish,” Carol-Fingerhut said. “I went to Washington College, a small liberal arts school in Maryland. It was a culture shock to be the first Jewish person that many students met in my school; I know a lot of the students here have similar experiences.
Every Friday my roommates and I attend Shabbat dinners. We also took cooking classes in Iowa Hillel and had soup delivered when we felt sick. Although I am not Jewish, the Hillel is still a supportive community for my roommates and I and is now like a home from home.
Finding a sense of community across Iowa Hillel has been incredibly uplifting for many students. Shayna Ungerleider, a third year university student in psychology, has been involved with Hillel since its first year.
“I grew up without a great sense of community when it comes to my Jewish identity until high school, so when I got here my parents encouraged me to participate in Hillel. In first grade, my friend and I went to Shabbat dinner, ”Ungerleider said. “The further I went, the more comfortable I was with people there, sharing our experiences in Judaism, for example, saying something in Yiddish that my friends outside of Hillel wouldn’t understand, my community in. Hillel would understand that. “
Managing the Iowa Hillel has been an incredibly rewarding job for Carol-Fingerhut, especially after her experience as an undergraduate student who built the Hillel at her own college.
“There are so many great parts of my job, seeing students forming friendships teaching them Judaism,” said Carol-Fingerhut. “Friday night Shabbat dinners, however, are my favorite time of the week, whether in person, with students meeting at Hillel for services and dinner, or now during COVID-19, when I can. check in with the students when they pick up their Shabbat dinner to go.
Iowa Hillel constantly strives to provide opportunities for students to become more engaged in their Jewish identity. There is a range of internships and leadership positions within the organization that students are encouraged to take advantage of.
UI Hillel is a small but powerful organization made up of the most welcoming and dedicated people. All students from various backgrounds are welcome to come to Hillel and have a home cooked meal to share with other students through Zoom.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to build and maintain relationships. Hillel hosts an assortment of online events including quiz nights, cooking classes, Shabbat services, and more, all of which can be found on their website. He deserves more recognition for his dedication to students and the UI community.
Columns reflect the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations with which the author may be involved.