Students Share Home at Hillel Stories
As High Holy Days approach, we set the tone for our New Year, beginning the cycle again, reflecting and renewing. During this time, four hundred students and community members congregate at Hillel and experience professionally-run, engaging services covering Reform, Conservative and Orthodox orientations. We invite you to join us this year!
What are students saying about High Holy Days at Hillel?
"I love High Holy Days at Hillel because it's the first time our entire community comes together in a meaningful way after summer break. Hillel's services offer me a unique opportunity to dive back into Jewish life at UCLA and to share a meaningful experience with my close friends."
- Amir Kashfi, Class of 2019, Bruin AIPAC Cadre 17-18, Student Leader last 2 years, JLF Alum, BRI Alum, Board 17-18
"Celebrating the High Holy Days was relatively new to me as I entered college, as my childhood does not reflect a typical Jewish upbringing. At UCLA, I was looking to further explore my Jewish identity and learn about the traditions of others. I felt the services themselves were very interactive, inviting, and communal -- I had the chance to reflect on the year with new friends, with some conversations extending past services and into dinner. The High Holy Days at Hillel made an event that was inherently unfamiliar to me feel more comfortable, thanks to the welcoming community and introspective programming."
- Nina Chikanov, Class of 2019 - BRI Alum, JLF Alum, SJF Alum, SL Alum, Institute 2016, Chai on Life
"Prior to coming to UCLA, I had virtually no exposure to any communal or religious elements of my Judaism. Hillel at UCLA found and embraced me despite my apprehension and anxiety. Through Hillel I have been able to develop my Jewish identity, explore my faith, and experience the High Holy Days for the first time in my life. Having the opportunity to see so many members of the Los Angeles Jewish community, from various denominations, in such an intimate environment was both inspiring and relieving for me. The warm environment created by Hillel and the community allowed me to feel comfortable despite my complete lack of familiarity and I now look forward to attending services year after year."
- Brad Fingard, Class of 2018, 16-17 Hillel Board member, ILF Alum, J Street Board member, Hartman Alum, BRI Alum
"My first time at Hillel was for Erev Yom Kippur services my freshman year, three days after I had moved into my room. I very vividly remember eating my final meal with my roommates, who both happened to be Jewish, before the three of us walked over to services and got lost on our way. It was somewhat sad not being with my family in the synagogue I had grown up in, but everyone was incredibly welcoming, which made me feel right at home. It’s crazy to think that many of the people I sat with and met that night are now close friends."
- Zach Emanuel, Class of 2019, Bruins B'Yachad minyan, Institute 2017, JLF Alum
"Last year was my first year at UCLA as a transfer student, and the High Holy Days services were among my first Hillel experiences. I immediately felt the warmth and powerful connections among students and community members. The spiritually transformative and inspiring services allowed for the kind of soul-searching that is ideal throughout the High Holy Days. The High Holy Day services offered me an introductory glimpse of what Hillel is like year round, and I've been coming back ever since!"
- Elianna Bernstein, Class of 2018, JLF Alum
"High Holy Days are the time I feel closest to Judaism, and I truly felt more connected to the Jewish Bruin community when I spent these days at Hillel this past year. From excitedly celebrating Rosh Hashanah to struggling through the Yom Kippur fast, I felt supported and enriched each time I stepped into Hillel. Furthermore, Hillel enables Jewish students to engage with High Holy Days to whatever extent they choose, and I appreciated programming options catered to my Jewish identity."
- Claire Fieldman, Class of 2019, Hillel Board 17-18
"Hillel has become my second home on campus. The moment I stepped onto campus, Hillel welcomed me with open arms, allowed me to grow in innumerable ways, and helped me make many memories, friends, and mentors. From the joyous services to the incredible staff to the welcoming students, Hillel at UCLA is a great place to spend High Holy Days and any time of the year. I cannot wait to celebrate the holidays with the entire community soon!"
- Aly Besser, Class of 2020, Student Leader, JLF Alum
"I had never spent the high holidays away from my family until I came to UCLA in the fall of my freshman year. It was a vulnerable time in my life, with new classes, a new living situation, and new friends. And it was during this time that Hillel opened its doors up to me. I felt comforted and welcomed by the students and community members present at the services, and the ability to choose between 3 different types of services gave me the opportunity to explore my Judaism in novel ways."
- Nathali Roizman, Class of 2018, JLF Alum and Intern 17-18, ILF Alum, ASB Alum, BRI Alum, Student Board 2015-2016
"The absence of family was initially a strange feeling for someone who grew up cherishing the High Holiday traditions growing up; but the services and programs organized by Hillel at UCLA made me feel right at home with a new family. Attending High Holidays at Hillel have become an integral part of my identity as a Jewish college student, and I am so thankful for the warm sense of community the guest educators and professional staff are able to cultivate."
- Nate Glovinsky, Class of 2019, JLF Alum, Student Leader, BRI Alum, Institute 2016, Board 17-18
More than 90% of student programming for High Holy Days is sponsored by individual donors just like you. Please scroll down to make a contribution in order to ensure our Jewish community thrives in the beginning of the year!
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Our programs are made possibly because of the strength in giving from our community members. Thank you for your help empowering Jewish Bruins through your gift to Hillel at UCLA.