Brown RISD Hillel Newsletter
Tevet 5774December 2013
In This Issue
Support Us
Young Alumni
Jewish Life and Learning
Religious Life
Arts & Culture
Tzedek (Social Justice)
Student Engagement
By the Numbers

1...New Hillel Rabbi/Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life - Rabbi Michelle Dardashti.
10...Students (representing three countries) who participated in the Maccabiah games this past summer.
0...The number of lights on at Shabbat in the Dark, which raised awareness about energy consumption.  
510...Views of our viral shofar-blowing video.  


Summer Taglit-Birthright Israel participants
Support Our Community

As the end of the year approaches, we need your help as much as ever to support the Jewish future at Brown, RISD, and beyond.


If you have already made a donation this year, thank you for your support!


If you haven't, please consider making a donation to support all of the great opportunities that Brown RISD Hillel provides for Jewish students on College Hill.  


Community Lunch attendees

Brown RISD Hillel
Brown RISD HIllel mourns the passing of Edgar M. Bronfman z"l. Mr. Bronfman was a visionary philanthropist who was instrumental in the transformation of Hillel two decades ago and served as the founding chair of Hillel International's Board of Governors.

May his memory forever be a blessing. 
In addition to this latest edition of the Brown RISD Hillel newsletter, we invite you to check out our website, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to learn more about Jewish life at Brown and RISD.

"Miracle on Wriston" featured an ice menorah sponsored by Brown RISD Hillel and Chabad of College Hill


  • Over winter break, 50 Brown and RISD students and two Hillel staff members will travel to Israel through our partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel. Soon after they return, registration will begin for our summer 2014 trip! If you know any current students who might be interested in a free trip to Israel with other students from College Hill, please visit 
  • It was a busy semester for our two Israel groups. Brown Students for Israel (BSI) hosted researchers from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which brings together Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and others to study environmental issues in the Negev. BSI also brought Michael Leitner, who has spent extensive time in Israel researching whether soccer programs connecting Israeli and Palestinian youth make significant differences in the players' attitudes toward each other.  
  • J Street U Brown (JSUB) sent over 25 Brown students to the September J Street conference in Washington. JSUB also helped launch the nationwide 2 Campaign, a series of conversations on the issues of refugees, borders and settlements, security and sovereignty, and Jerusalem.  Over 50 people attended JSUB's screening of "The Gatekeepers", the first documentary that interviews all present and former directors of the Shin Bet (Israel's security agency).
  • Brown RISD Hillel, BSI, and JSUB partnered with the Program in Judaic Studies, Watson Institute, and Middle East Studies for a presentation and private meeting with Gershon Baskin, one of the chief negotiators during the Oslo Accords as well as the negotiator who helped free Gilad Schalit. 


Student leaders meet with Ronit Nudelman-Perl, the Acting Consul-General of Israel to New England
Jewish Life and Learning
  • Rabbi Michelle Dardashti led ten students on a "Journey Into Judaism," a weekly opportunity to learn about the basics of Judaism. Additionally, during High Holy Day services and throughout the semester, Rabbi Dardashti encouraged students to sit down with her for coffee and conversation. Dozens of students took her up on the offer this semester, with appointments already being booked for next semester.  
  • Students and Senior Engagement Associate Rachel Eisen traveled to Mayyim Hayyim, a pluralistic mikveh in Newton, MA, to learn about the history of mikveh, spiritual Jewish practices, feminist Jewish theology, and reclaiming ancient rituals.
  • The Program in Judaic Studies and Hillel brought together an academic panel entitled "Is the Sky Falling?: Scholars Analyze the 2013 Pew Report on the Future of American Jews." A video of the panel is available on our website. 
Student leaders and staff at the annual Student Leadership Retreat


  • Our Shabbat lineup this semester exposed students to a diverse set of interesting speakers and topics. Highlights included: 
    • Brown President Christina Paxson was the featured speaker at the Ninth Annual Rabbi Bernard Mandelbaum Memorial Student-Faculty Shabbat Dinner.
    • At the First Annual Shabbat Dinner in Memory of Michael Atkins '01, we were joined by Michael's family for a special performance of "Oh, God" by Israeli Stage.
    • Two guests from the Nigerian Jewish community visited for a memorable Shabbat dinner, including an informative Q&A about Jewish life in Nigeria.  
    • Sacred Foods Shabbat, an annual favorite, featured fresh, locally-grown recipes prepared by students.
  • We were once again lucky to have Rabbi Rick Jacobs P'12 '14, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism, leading our Reform High Holy Day services this year.
  • Sukkot Unheard featured live, acoustic music from Brown and RISD musicians in our very own terrace sukkah in partnership with Brown Unheard.
  • Rabbi James Jacobson Maisels '97 led a session entitled "Contemplative Judaism as Mindfulness Cultivation", based on the teachings of the Piaseczner Rebbe from the Warsaw Ghetto. A meditation based on his teachings followed. Over 20 students participated, exploring the history of Jewish meditation and contemplative practice and their implications for our lives.
  • A special Hanukkah Community Lunch and our annual Hanukkah Bash brought students to the Hillel building to celebrate, while our "Miracle on Wriston: The Ice Menorah" event with Chabad brought Hanukkah to campus right outside the Ratty and AEPi. In all, over 500 students connected with Hillel during Hanukkah.  
Students and young alumni interning in DC over the summer met at a local restaurant to catch up

Arts and Culture
  • The Brown RISD Hillel Gallery featured works from Oded Ezer as part of his artist residency at RISD sponsored by the Israel Institute. The show included a selection of posters, type specimens, and his work for the New American Haggadah.   
  • Mahberet, the literary magazine of Brown RISD Hillel, celebrated the launch of its 2013 issue.
  • Brown RISD Hillel teamed up with Alpha Epsilon Pi for a sing along to our favorite musical hit, Fiddler on the Roof, in a night of singing, laughs, and tradition.
Oded Ezer discusses his artwork


Tzedek (Social Justice)
  • The second year of our Moral Voices series is focusing on genocide and mass atrocities. The year will culminate with the visit of General Romeo Dallaire on April 23, helping mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide earlier in April.  
  • Fourteen students traveled with Director of Engagement Alisa Kotler-Berkowitz on our summer service trip to assist the Jewish community of Argentina in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. An exhibit of student photographs from their trip currently graces the walls of our gallery.   
  • Shabbat in the Dark, part of Brown RISD Hillel's Green Hillel initiative, aimed to raise awareness about energy consumption and Jewish attitudes towards environmentalism. Earlier in the semester, our first night Rosh Hashanah dinner for over 250 students was declared a zero waste event by Brown EcoReps
Dr. Clive Lipchin discusses environmental issues tackled by the Arava Institute 


Orientation BBQ 12
Over 500 students gathered for food, music, and an opportunity to learn more about Jewish life at Brown and RISD at our annual Orientation Barbeque