building at dusk
Brown RISD Hillel Parent Newsletter
Tamuz 5775
June 2015
In This Issue
Support Us
Passover Music Video
Young Alumni
Student Stories
By the Numbers
Jewish Life and Learning
Shabbat and Holidays
Tzedek (Social Justice)
Arts and Culture
Did you know that Brown RISD Hillel raises 100% of its programming and operations budget each year?

As our fiscal year comes to an end, we ask for your help to fund innovative Jewish programming and support the Jewish community at Brown, RISD, and beyond.


If you've already donated this year, thank you!


If you haven't, please consider
to Brown RISD Hillel.  

Each and every gift truly makes a difference.


Grilling up burgers and hot dogs for our Yom HaAtzmaut BBQ.
My Passover Seder Video
After the successful Hanukkah video, Hillel Engagement Marli Scharlin '16 teamed up once more with Brown's Jabberwocks to create a special tribute to the Passover story.

With more than 5,000 views on YouTube, this was one of a number of examples of how Hillel's Engagement Internship connected with both the Jewish community and broader campus community this past year.
Calling Young Alumni 

Do you know young alumni in New York or Boston? Make sure they join our two Facebook groups for Brown and RISD grads to find out about events happening just for them!


Do you know young alumni that aren't in Boston or New York but want to stay connected? Email Director of Philanthropy Abby Klieman at


Click here for the NYC group and click here for the Boston group.  

Shabbat on the Green
Introducing Student Stories 
of Brown RISD Hillel

Meet some of the students involved in Jewish life at Brown and RISD. This exciting new project will update frequently with new student stories. To kick off the launch, we featured a handful of seniors as they prepared to graduate. 

Visit the webpage here.

By the Numbers

7...Current students interning in Israel this summer.

25...Brown's place on the list of private schools chosen by Jewish students in Hillel International's new college guide magazine.

1017...Likes of the Jews of Brown Faceboo page

2552...Tweets on our popular Twitter feed. 
Brown RISD Hillel
Brown RISD Hillel is a voice for all Jewish students on College Hill regardless of participation level, political position, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or economic situation. As you'll see in our year-end highlights below, Hillel has enabled scores of students to explore their identity and discover the richness of our Jewish heritage. And newly launched alumni programs will continue to support them on their Jewish journey. 

We hope you enjoy our latest newsletter and want to let you in on a little known fact: Brown RISD Hillel does not receive funding from Brown or RISD. We raise our entire budget from scratch each year.

Parent support allows us to continue to cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders.  And now as we approach midnight tonight, June 30 - the end of our fiscal year - we are $25,000 short of achieving our goal. 

Note that donors to Brown RISD Hillel can now receive gift credit with Brown University. (To learn more and opt-in, visit


Interested in learning more about Jewish life on campus? Please visit our website, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Flickr. You can also sign up for our weekly campus e-newsletter here.

Hillel honored student leaders at our Annual Meeting and End of Year Celebration in April.
Jewish Life and Learning
  • Hillel organized an opportunity for students in Professor Adam Teller's course JUDS 0901 ("Brothers Betrayed: Jews and Poles from 1500 until Today") to travel to Poland to explore Jewish life in Poland - past, present, and future. A Flickr photo album offers highlights from their trip and a gallery exhibit of student photography from the trip is currently featured in our Hillel Gallery Project. The trip was made possible through a generous grant from a family foundation.
  • Hillel continued to offer numerous opportunities to engage with the languages of Israel through Hebrew conversational lunches, beginner Hebrew, and Arabic lessons, all led by Israel Engagement Fellow Elan Cohen.
Students pause for a picture before traveling to Poland with Hillel and Professor Adam Teller over spring break.

Panelists for our "Women in Religion" conversation, convened by one of this year's engagement interns, included faith leaders on and off campus.
  • Three days after Brown Commencement, 25 Brown and RISD students, Israel Engagement Fellow Elan Cohen, and Rabbi Michelle Dardashti traveled to Israel on a 10-day trip in partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel and Shorashim. If you know any 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 Eric Mandel, founder and Director of the Middle East Political and Information Network™ and writer from the Jerusalem Post to speak about the ongoing schism between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They also brought Dr. Einat Wilf, who served in the 18th Knesset (Israeli Parliament) for the Labor Party, to speak about the Israeli Elections.
    • J Street U Brown (JSUB) brought 10 students to Washington D.C. for the annual J Street conference to hear from policy leaders and lobby for change alongside Brown alumni. 
    • Both groups partnered together to bring Arab-Israeli Diplomat and Ambassador George Deek to campus as well as Palestinian activist and non-violence practitioner Ali Abu Awwad.
  • Hillel offered a number of unique cultural opportunities to connect with Israel on College Hill, including a live performance of the popular Israel podcast Israel Story Live and a night of "Shakshuka, Hummus and Yaniv".


Students, alumni, and staff gather at the J Street national 
conference in Washington D.C.

Brown Students for Israel organizers join Dr. Einat Wilf, former Member of Knesset for the Labor Party.
  • Our Shabbat lineup this semester exposed students to a diverse set of interesting speakers and topics. Highlights included: 
    • The Hillel Initiative on Racial Awareness and Justice brought scholar in residence Yavilah McCoy to speak about the roles that student leaders can play in advancing identity-group/faith-based action toward racial justice over Shabbat dinner and then a Shabbat afternoon workshop.
    • Musician and composer Noah Aronson led a musical and spiritual "Soulful Shabbat" program for our reform minyan and our entire community through a grant from the Bernhardt Family Foundation. After an energetic Kabbalat Shabbat service, Noah led a spirited song session following dinner. 
    • Shabbat on the Green featured a student-cooked meal served on Brown's Quiet Green after a beautiful musical outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Rabbi Dardashti.
    • Nissim Reuben, Assistant Director of the Asia Pacific Institute (API) at the American Jewish Committee, spoke about Indian Jewish life and customs during a Shabbat co-sponsored by Hillel's Engagement Internship and our Jews of Mixed Identity group (JMIG).
  • Purim at Hillel included learning sessions, a lively Megillah reading and karaoke sing along, and opportunities for social justice work through mishloah manot (Purim baskets) making for friends and family.
  • An exciting week of Passover at Hillel was highlighted by eight different seders at Hillel, apartment/dorm seders via Hillel seder kits, learning sessions, an afikoman scavenger hunt, a Prince of Egypt movie screening, and a grad student wine and cheese event.
Students make chocolate covered Matzah as one of many Passover programs.

Students dress up for the Purim Megillah reading.
Tzedek (Social Justice)
  • Newly formed this year, the Hillel Initiative on Racial Awareness and Justice was launched by students and Rabbi Dardashti to create dialogue, deepen understanding, and take action on issues related to race and racism in our community, on our campuses, and in our country. 
  • The third year of our Moral Voices series focused on Gun Violence. Earlier in the semester we held a panel on the intersection between mental health and gun violence. The culminating event brought keynote speaker and Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard to talk about his experience and his work as a gun violence prevention activist.
  • Hillel's Tzedek committee led efforts to help the elderly in the community with shoveling during the intense snow storms this winter. The committee also partnered with our Holidays co-chairs to give matanot levyonim (gifts to the poor) during Purim and worked with the Gift of Life foundation to host a bone marrow drive, encouraging students and faculty to join the national bone marrow registry.
  • Recycling and composting continued to be an integral part of Hillel events this semester thanks to our partnership with Brown's Green Events initiative
Moral Voices student leaders pose with keynote speaker and gun violence prevention activist Colin Goddard and Rabbi Michelle Dardashti.


Arts and Culture
  • The Brown RISD Hillel Gallery featured a number of powerful exhibits this semester including:
  • "American Eyes on Israel" - a collection of student photography from our Taglit-Birthright Israel trips this past year
  • "Changing America" - a traveling Smithsonian exhibit on the Civil Rights Movement organized by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) 
  • "Portals: Absence of Presence and Presence of Absence" - showcasing student photography from the spring break trip to Poland
  • Mahberet released its annual literary magazine featuring pieces written and curated by Brown and RISD students. 
  • The Alef Beats and Yarmulkzi each had numerous performances and appearances at Hillel events and around Brown's campus.
Students pose beside their work at the "Portals: Absence of Presence and Presence of Absence" gallery opening.

More Snapshots from Our Year!
Students roast marshmellows as part of a Lag B'Omer
Smores and Stories event.


Students join David Makovsky, former adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry during last year's peace negotations.


Students from the Jewish Cooking Club make hamentashen from scratch in honor of Purim.


Rabbi Dardashti and Moral Voices committee members participate in a Rhode Island rally against gun violence.


Students pose during our summer Taglit Birthright-Israel trip with Shorashim.


Help support Jewish life on College Hill and all that we were able to accomplish this year with a gift before midnight tonight!  Visit our website to donate now.