Jill Herskovits 0

Permanent JSA/Hillel House

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WE NEED YOUR HELP: WE ALMOST LOST OUR JSA HOME LAST YEAR, AND WE NEED YOU TO HELP BY SIGNING A PETITION SO THE UNIVERSITY WILL ALLOW US TO ENDOW A PERMANENT HILLEL HOUSE ON CAMPUS. We have the donors in place. JUST SIGN! As current Georgetown students, we\'ve come to love our JSA/Hillel house. It\'s a home away from home, a place to come together as a Jewish community for a few hours on Friday night, or at the many other programs that JSA/Hillel groups host over the course of the academic year. But the house didn\'t always look so welcoming to us, and we recognize that it still doesn\'t feel as welcoming to prospective and new students. We\'re thankful that our university is a world-class academic institution, and that our prospective students are weighing Georgetown against similarly prestigious schools -- like UPenn, Columbia, and NYU -- with much more established and expansive Jewish communities and institutions. We love our house -- but we know that in the minds of prospective students, it just can\'t compare to the massive Hillel facilities at those universities. We\'ve been blessed with the rapid expansion of the Program for Jewish Civilization, and we\'re excited about the bright future of Jewish academia at Georgetown. But a program of Jewish studies can only be as strong as its students. In order to give PJC programs and classes the attendance and interest that they so richly deserve, we must provide Jewish students with the services and community that they seek: Shabbat services and other religious programs, social gatherings with other Jewish students, Israel advocacy, a Kosher kitchen, and other Jews with whom they can bond. The house has served to meet these many needs in the past, but as our community has continued to grow, the house has reached its capacity in recent years, and can no longer fulfill these many functions comfortably. Still worse is the uncertainty as to whether the Jewish community will have a house in years to come, and the detriment to the Jewish community if that were to happen is almost inexpressible. Every year at the Bagel Brunch, the house bursts at the seams with students, both new and returning, as well as their parents -- and that can be an intimidating sight. In recent years this overcrowding has carried over to Shabbat services, with many standing-room-only Shabbats this past school year. While the high attendance at Shabbat services is wonderful, the house has more than reached its capacity to hold our growing community. Not only can this be problematic when recruiting prospective students; it is also a difficulty for new Shabbat attendees who may feel like the Jewish community at Georgetown literally doesn\'t have room for them. Our space needs to reflect the open and welcoming attitude that we want to project as members of JSA/Hillel. A larger space would not only remedy our perpetual prayer space needs (and, as the only ministry on campus without a permanent prayer space, this is of utmost importance to us), but allow us to expand Jewish programming by creating ample room for large programs, or simultaneous programs run by the various JSA/ Hillel groups. We would like to close this letter by expressing just how important a permanent, and larger, space is to us, and to the Jewish community at Georgetown. We have been faced with the prospect of losing the current JSA/Hillel house in recent years, and feel strongly that the Jewish community at Georgetown needs more than a temporary space for Friday night Shabbat services. Our community is diverse and growing, and our space should serve as a reflection of the strong Jewish community at our university, and as a safe haven or welcome home for students who want to participate in Jewish religious rituals or just have a place to be with other Jews. Our house serves as the space that binds our community together, and as a minority group on campus, we are acutely aware of just how important that is. We cannot imagine Georgetown without a Jewish space, and the need for that space to be permanent and more expansive is more pressing now than ever.


Sponsored by JSA/Hillel boards 2006-2007 and 2007-2008
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