It is Week One of the Spring Quarter and we’re already awash with optimism:
22 participants in our Fact-Finding Journey to Israel and the Palestinian Authority have returned to campus. These highly influential, non-Jewish student leaders spent nine days over spring break interfacing with the full spectrum of identities and perspectives in the region. They cried, they laughed, and most importantly, they learned. As they join us for Shabbat dinner tonight, they bring to campus on-the-ground experience of one of the most complex conflicts today. They also bring home hope and nuance, and serve as an inspiration to us all.
At the same time, we congratulate the UC Regents for passing a strong statement of principles defending Jewish students and correctly linking anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
We welcome back the largest delegation from any school to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC.
And nearly 250 undergraduate and graduate students will be joining us for a camp-themed Shabbat tonight.
It’s a great start to our final quarter.
I have two requests:
1) Get the word out that UCLA is a great place for Jewish students! If you know seniors who have been admitted to UCLA, please tell them about our incredible Jewish community. There is a lot of misinformation out there. The simple fact is that we have the strongest Jewish community anywhere west of the Mississippi, replete with a daily minyan and kosher food in the dorms. UCLA students proudly wear their kippot, Jewish star necklaces and Hillel-branded shirts.
2) Ensure our ability to continue this essential work! Our student life, our trips, our advocacy - are only made possible through charitable donations from people like you. We receive no funding from UCLA. Private foundations and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles combine to constitute less than 15% of our budget. For the remaining 85%, we are completely reliant on you. Please take this opportunity to celebrate with us by donating here.
Thank you! Please reach out to continue the conversation!
Rabbi Aaron Lerner
Executive Director, Hillel at UCLA
What an experience! A Day of Learning / A Night for Chaim was a day like no other!
These two events were created in honor of Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller on the occasion of his retirement after 40 years as Executive Director of Hillel at UCLA.
The symposium during the day, held at our building on Hilgard, featured noted speakers including:
- Professor David N. Myers
- Rabbi Elliot Dorff
- Rabbi Art Green
- Vice Chancellor Carole Goldberg
- Professor Moshe Halbertal
- Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
- Rabbi Aaron Lerner
- Professor Todd Presner
- Rabbi Laura Geller
- Professor Suzanne Last Stone
- Rabbi Asher Lopatin
- As well as a touching tribute by Chaim's son, Shaul Seidler-Feller.
Later that evening at the Skirball Cultural Center, we honored Chaim at a once-in-a-lifetime gala in Herscher Hall.
The evening was an immense success with 475 guests in attendance, and featured emcee Mayim Bialik, special video tributes, and surprise guests. The event far surpassed its $500,000 fundraising goal - including $50,000 raised that night - which will help support programs in leadership development, Israel advocacy, tikkun olam, and more, as well as establish the new Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller Institute of Jewish Learning at UCLA.
Please visit our website HERE to see photos, videos, and read articles about the day of events.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible day so wonderful!
A Night for Chaim was a night like no other! Filled with touching tributes and funny stories, hundreds of people shared their love and appreciation for Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller on Sunday, January 31st, on the occasion of his retirement after 40 years at Hillel at UCLA.
We will share photos of the event soon, but in the meantime, please enjoy three special tribute videos presented at the event: TEACHER (with a special message from Barbra Streisand!), MENTOR, and LEADER.
BONUS! Chaims' friend, Jeannine Frank, wrote special lyrics for "To Life!" from Fiddler on the Roof in Chaim's honor. See the fun video HERE.
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, our recently retired Executive Director of 40 years, was featured in two wonderful articles in the Jewish Journal in relation to our gala, A Night for Chaim, which took place on Sunday, January 31st, at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Click HERE to read an article by Senior Writer Jared Sichel (Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller’s 40-year legacy at an evolving UCLA).
And click HERE to read a lovely tribute by President of the Jewish Journal and Columnist, David Suissa (Chaim Being Chaim).
Huge Congrats to former Hillel student leader Rachel Sumekh, featured on the cover of the Jewish Journal!
While here at UCLA, she founded an organization that allows dorm students to donate their unused points on their campus meal plans to help feed the homeless. Now, just a couple of years later, the organization has expanded under her lead, and she is the Executive Director of her nationally recognized nonprofit, Swipe Out Hunger.
Read more about remarkable Rachel here, in the new Mensch List 2015 in the Jewish Journal!
We are thrilled to announce that Hillel at UCLA received two wonderful honors at this year's Hillel International Global Assembly! The event brings together professional staff from Hillels throughout the country for professional development and networking, culminating with an awards banquet showcasing the best of the best in Jewish life on campus.
This year, we were honored with the Israel Engagement and Education Award in recognition of our Fact-Finding Mission to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders. We're so grateful to all of the people - students, staff, donors, and lay leaders - who worked so hard to make this happen!
Additionally, we congratulate Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan of our Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus for their honor. They received the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award, named in honor of former Hillel President Richard M. Joel, which is presented to individuals who emulate Joel's devotion to professionalism, extraordinary faithfulness to Jewish principles, a profound interest in the welfare of friends and colleagues, and a passion for connecting new generations to the joy of Jewish living. Mazel Tov!
Our students arrive in Israel for our winter Birthright Israel trip! We wish them a fun and transformative experience!
Happy Hanukkah from the Staff of Hillel at UCLA! We're greeting you from our annual Hanukkah lunch and white elephant exchange.
May your light shine brightly all year!
We're happy to present Three-Minute Torah from our Director Emeritus, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, as he shares his wisdom with us this Hanukkah (2015 / 5776). He reflects on how the power of what we experience in the home can extend well beyond the home and positively influence our world.
Have a joyous Hanukkah and a very wonderful New Year!
Bruins B'Olam is a blog series about Jewish Bruins around the world on Alternative Break experiences with UCLA Hillel. Alternative Break is a week-long immersive experience with students participating in community service projects with partner organizations. This year, Alternative Spring Break is going to the Dominican Republic on an education service trip; if you would like to join us or have more questions, please contact Samantha Libraty at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jessica Jacobs email@example.com.
“Education is the key to life.” After seeing this quote on a bulletin board at the local school on my first day during the Alternative Spring Break trip to Jamaica, I already felt that I was making a difference in lives of the Jamaican children by taking part in this meaningful experience. Upon entering the school on our first day of community service, we were immediately greeted by the children with smiles and warmth. To see the passion these children had for education and the opportunity to assist the children with their schoolwork, was one of the most fulfilling experiences for me. The time we spent exploring the Jamaican island and immersing ourselves in the Jamaican culture life after volunteering at the local schools was incredible, however the involvement in community service had the greatest impact on me. To me, there is no greater feeling in life than seeing the positive impact of your actions on others.