A Pivotal Moment

TODAY IS THE DAY to join the 24-hour frenzy of giving back to Hillel for #Giving Tuesday.
We are proud to share that 100% of our staff participates in Giving Tuesday.
On that note, here is some inspiration from a Hillel staffer, Gisele Haykin.


In honor of #GivingTuesday I am preaching for Hillel at UCLA. WHY, you ask? Wow, I'm so glad you asked!!
In college, Hillel grew me into the Jewish woman I am today, seeking to create Jewish community. It was a pivotal moment when I got to decide for myself IF/and then HOW I wanted to live a Jewish life.

And now everyday, I get to see firsthand, college students at UCLA making the same decisions as I was..."Should I go to that Hillel event? Well someone nice invited me...and said they'd go with me...and it sounded kind of interesting...and it's yeah, why not!" (That by the way is essentially how Hillel works.)

But guess what? --it's not actually free. It's free to students, and that's where you come in.

You can make Hillel Happen with a gift today. Thank you for your consideration, every gift makes a difference.
- Gisele Haykin, Community and Philanthropic Outreach



Give a gift of any amount and make a difference today! **look below for info to double your gift**


Make contributing easy, schedule it once for monthly giving to make a difference all year round!


Choose a credit or debit card - your purchases will round up to the nearest dollar and your change will support Hillel at UCLA. Control how much you give, it's all up to you!


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Photo courtesy of: Hillel at UCLA Fact Finders group 2016

Hillel at UCLA's Mission: To be a home away from home at UCLA for all Jewish students to build their identities through Jewish life, learning, and Israel.

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.

Fall Hillel Events For All!

With the High Holy Days behind us we are looking forward to more events for community and students to enjoy together. Whether it is Shabbat, Visual Art, or Theater, there is something for everyone this fall at Hillel.

During UCLA's Bruin Family Weekend...
Join the Hillel Family for Bruin Family Shabbat!

Friday, October 20, 2017
  Services 6:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm
FREE for Students, $18 for Non-Students


Whether you're an alum, parent, sibling, or part of our extended Jewish Bruin Family, we hope you will join us for a memorable Shabbat experience with Hillel at UCLA!

For more information, please contact Gisele Haykin at (310)208-3081 or

Art Opening Fall 2017

Thursday, October 26th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Free and Open to the Public




Suddenly A Knock At The Door - A Staged Reading
Monday, November 20 8pm
Free and Open to the Public
RSVP Required



Sure to be a special event, “Suddenly, a Knock at the Door” is a new play adapted by Robin Goldfin and directed by Jeff Maynard, with live instrumental music by Oren Neiman, based on stories by award winning Israeli author and filmmaker Etgar Keret.  It is a celebration of storytelling and the magic of art—an ensemble piece written for six actors and two musicians playing some thirty different roles.

What Are You Thinking?

What Are You Thinking?
A Preparatory Teaching For The High Holy Days

by Rabbi Aaron Lerner

“The thoughts you think create your feelings and emotions. The thoughts you think are the key factor in what you say and do. The entire quality of your life is totally dependent on the thoughts you choose to focus on.”

- Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness

This belief, that we are creators of our own reality, can be found in numerous Jewish sources, in addition to other religions’ texts. Even secular stories and scientific research seem to affirm it:

From Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

To Israeli happiness researcher and Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shachar: “Happiness is a product of what we choose to pursue as well as what we choose to perceive.”

Choice. Radical responsibility. These are the most important, and difficult, concepts for the current Jewish season of self-improvement. It’s truly mind-bending, even infuriating, to take responsibility for our lives. But it’s also entirely necessary as we prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

This is because Judaism is based on the assumption of free will. We believe that “free will is granted to all people. If one desires to turn to the path of good and be righteous, the choice is hers. Should she desire to turn to the path of evil and be wicked, that’s also a choice.” This statement from Maimonides is followed by his assertion that one “may be wise or foolish, merciful or cruel, miserly or generous, or [acquire] any other character traits. There is no one who compels her.”

There are lot of other people I would like to change. But my ability to do so is almost non-existent. Possibly I can catalyze change with a few well-chosen, humbly delivered words. But unless someone truly wants to change, they generally don’t. Even, and especially, if I yell at them. Which just leaves me. The only person I am entirely capable changing is me.

This week, we will celebrate the Jewish new year. Judaism asks us to come prepared. We make our new year’s resolutions before the holiday. We are expected to arrive having already begun to actively work on ourselves. What can you do in the next 36 hours to prepare?

I hope you will join us as we attempt to support one another in this process as we celebrate together!

Rabbi Aaron Lerner is Executive Director of Hillel at UCLA and will be leading Conservative services for High Holy Days at Hillel

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER to join us for High Holy Days at Hillel

CLICK HERE to read a recently published article by Rabbi Aaron Lerner

CLICK HERE to read student stories on Why Hillel is Their Home for the Holy Days


We are excited to welcome back to our Conservative services, Yael and Ronit Aranoff, highly acclaimed performers who cantored eight seasons of High Holy Days at Hillel at UCLA, following in the tradition of their mother and aunt who also cantored at our Hillel for 25 years. 
Together with special guest Trustee & Alumna, Mayim Bialik, and our Director of Jewish Learning and Leadership, Danielle Natelson, the Aranoff sisters create a gorgeous musical quartet.

CLICK HERE for Behind The Scenes footage of this quartets first rehearsal!


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 

CLICK HERE To Register And Make Your Home At Hillel For The Holy Days!

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!



Hillel at UCLA's Mission: To be a home away from home at UCLA for all Jewish students to build their identities through Jewish life, learning, and Israel.

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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.

Celebrate With The Best In The West

Best In The West! #3 In The Nation!

Hillel at UCLA is kicking off this school year with some terrific news, worth celebration! This week the Forward shared a list of the Best Colleges for Jewish Life and UCLA was listed as #3 in the nation and #1 in the West! Congratulations are due to the amazing team of students, supports, stakeholders, and staff who work together to achieve this goal. We are looking forward to welcoming new Jewish Bruins to UCLA's thriving Jewish community.

CLICK HERE to read this week's article in the Forward. CLICK HERE to read this week's article in the Jewish Journal.

Kick off the new school year with Hillel for the Jewish New Year!

High Holy Days are coming soon, registration is now open! This year, the High Holy Day timing overlaps with students moving in to UCLA! Help us spread the word to incoming first year students by forwarding this email to new Jewish Bruins and families. Hillel at UCLA shines as a space for students and community alike to join together in observance and engagement in respect of pluralistic ritual. For more details on services CLICK HERE. Let us know you are attending by joining our Facebook event pages: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We look forward to sharing this holiday season with you!

A Letter From the Outgoing Student Board President

This time of year means great celebration at Hillel as we say goodbye to the graduating Class of 2017!
As the students say goodbye, we are grateful for all they have done in contributing to this community, we celebrate the strength they bring with them to their new communities and look forward to seeing them again as alumni. Hannah Tudzin, outgoing student President, has spent her four years engaging with Hillel, both being empowered by and empowering many of our programs.
by Hannah Tudzin

This past year, I have had the honor and privilege to serve as the Hillel student board president. Hillel at UCLA places a strong emphasis on students' Jewish journeys and leadership development. I know I would not be the Jewish leader and young woman today if it were not for the programs and staff support that I have had the opportunity to benefit and learn from these past four years at Hillel. As I prepare for my upcoming graduation this weekend, I reflect upon some of the countless experiences I've shared with my peers while at Hillel at UCLA that have truly made me who I am today. (This list is longer than even I expected!)

4 years of Welcome Weeks (including BBQs, holiday celebrations, activities fairs), Meals in the Sukkah, Bearing Witness (2016, 2017), Challah for Hunger challah bakes, Volunteering with ImpactLA, 4 AIPAC Policy Conferences, Birthright summer 2015, Shabbat Friday night services and dinner, Shabbat Saturday lunch, Passover meals, On One Foot, Giving Taco Tuesday Phone-a-thon, Senior Sendoff, Freshman Year Students at Hillel  (FYSH) Ice Blocking, FYSH planning committee, FYSH Hike to the Hollywood sign, Hillel International Engagement Institute in St. Louis, 3 Years of Leadership Development sessions, Mr. Hillel (2016, 2017), Joe Bruin's Bear Mitzvah 2014, Hillel goes to Spring Sing (2015, 2016, 2017), Tabling at Freshmen Orientations over the summer to welcome new Jewish Bruins (summer 2014, 2015, 2016), Jewish Learning Fellowship: Life's Big Questions, Party with Jews (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Israel Independence Week (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017): including BBQs, discussions, learning from various speakers, and big festivals on campus, Purim celebrations, Yom Hashoah ceremonies, Events chair on Hillel Student Board, Internal Relations Chair on Hillel Student Board, President on Hillel Student Board, Student member of board of directors, ShabbAW, Interfaith Shabbats, All Hillel Photoshoot, Hanging with Hillel at Janss steps, #JewishBrewinLyfe Coffee at Kerckhoff, Student Leadership Retreats (2014, 2015, 2016), Wine and unwind learning with Rabbi Kaplan, Hillel Coffee House, Hanukkah parties (including candle lighting on the Hill and on campus), UCLA v USC Hillel tailgate, Hoops and Havdallah (Havdallah and UCLA basketball game), ReJEWvenate (yoga), Ultimate Hump Day celebration (celebrating the middle of the school year and promoting birthright), Lag B'Omar bonfire at the beach, Hillel Morales at Dance Marathon, Donor dinners
Cup of (Jo)seph: Coffee and Conversation for the Soul

In last week’s Parsha B’haalot’cha, the Israelites are having a hard time with their change from slavery to their lives as free people. Mine is not such a transition as theirs, but I also have never been good with change, which might sound a bit concerning as I approach this next big transition in my life from my undergraduate career to the real world. However, as I approach my own change, I am extremely fortunate to be able to carry with me the lessons, values, growth, and support of friends and mentors I’ve gained from Hillel in order to guide me on this next journey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the support you have given in order to create a lasting impact on me and other students here at Hillel. With your continued support, the next generations of Jewish Bruins will be afforded these same life changing, irreplaceable  opportunities.
Hannah Tudzin, Hillel Student Board President 2016-2017

A Shavuot Teaching: Making Time Count


Perhaps one of the most unique features characterizing Shavuot is the extensive ‘Omer’ count that leads up to the holiday. It’s fascinating that the Torah does not even prescribe a specific calendar date for Shavuot but simply positions it as occurring seven weeks after Passover, leaving the counting process to define its calendar location. The experience of counting is one that instinctively invites several emotional reactions. From numbering the weeks in an academic quarter (graduation, anyone?), to following the first 100 days of a presidency to being acutely aware of how many days and weeks have passed in a baby’s life, it is easy to appreciate how counting time invites feelings of expectation and anticipation, along with a charge for identifiable progress.

Historically, the period following the Passover Exodus was one that was punctuated by personal and national transformation. Freed from slavery, the fledgling Jewish nation was charged with shedding their slave mentality, reconstituting their national identity and establishing a new direction, which culminated in the Shavuot experience of unity at Sinai during which we received the Torah.

We are gifted the opportunity to leverage this historical period of transformation annually, by focusing on personal character refinement, communal connections and recommitting to Torah values anew. The counting that ushers in, and defines, the holiday becomes the inspiring force generating an expectation for palpable change and noteworthy progress. Just like Week 2 of the academic quarter is markedly different from Week 8, and a two week old is noticeably more developed than a two month old, we challenge ourselves to embrace the passage of time as we approach Shavuot to invite marked positive transformation in our own personal and communal realities.

Wishing everyone an optimal holiday experience,
Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan, Hillel at UCLA Jewish Learning Initiative Leaders


Pause for Parsley: A reflection for your Seder


Of the many Passover rituals, there is one that strikes me as particularly strange - the dipping of parsley in salt water. Many Haggadahs give the midrash that parsley signifies Spring and rebirth, while salt water symbolizes our tears in Egypt. Other Haggadahs give no explanation of the karpas ritual at all.

Motivated to keep the seder on a timeline, many of us eat the parsley and move forward, hoping that the meal will come soon.

This year, though, I’d like to encourage you to pause for parsley, and consider the follow alternative explanation offered by Rashi:

  • Parsley signifies fine wool or linen, specifically Joseph’s coat of many colors. (Rashi, Genesis 37:3)
  • Dipping in salt water reminds us that Joseph’s brothers dipped his coat in blood to convince their father, Jacob, that Joseph had been killed.

If this commentary illuminates the true meaning of the karpas ritual, isn’t this a peculiar start to the seder? On one hand we are prepared to celebrate freedom while on the other hand we symbolically drag out the family’s dirty laundry: the horrific episode wherein our ancestors got jealous, sought to kill their brother, and then sold him into slavery.

On Passover, the questions are always better than the answers.

This year, I offer you this question to consider: What do we gain by recalling the misdeeds done unto Joseph?

Conversational prompts:

  1. Explore our ancestors’ culpability in events which led to our slavery in Egypt? As the Talmud states: “[Joseph’s] brothers became jealous of him, and the matter unfolded, and [as a result] our forefathers descended to Egypt.”?
  2. Provide a moment for introspection about favoritism with our children? Could this be a counterbalance to the four sons found later in the Haggadah, some of whom may be viewed more favorably than others?
  3. Focus our attention towards the perennial problem of the Jewish people – sinat chinam, hatred for our own brethren, and the ways in which that leads to our downfall?
  4. Explore the idea that “pride comes before a fall?” After all, Joseph’s pride in his appearance and insistence on relating his dreams contributed to the hatred his brothers felt for him.
  5. Recognize the cost of a continued cover-up? Had the brothers not deceived their father, perhaps the family would have sent a search party for Joseph, redeeming him before he met Pharaoh, and averting Egyptian exile?
  6. Would our kids ask us different questions if the Haggadah more explicitly told the story of Joseph’s abuse by his brethren?
  7. Should we all adopt the Persian custom of using red wine vinegar instead of salt water at this point in the seder?

This year, if you decide to pause for parsley, consider serving a vegetable course at this point in the seder! The full meal (Shulchan Orech) doesn’t occur for several more sections of the seder, but many families choose to serve crudités with dips or other vegetables as part of karpas. Not only will this encourage you and your guests to dig deeper into the questions above, it may inspire more discussion time during the Maggid section, which is also often rushed for the sake of reaching the meal.

May you have a happy, healthy, and enlightening Passover full of more questions than answers!

Rabbi Aaron
Hillel at UCLA Executive Director

P.S. If you’re interested in a deeper exploration of Joseph, save the date for our 2017 lecture by renowned Torah scholar, Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg: May 10, 2017 at Hillel. Her lecture, “What if Joseph Hates Us” is sure to spark continued conversation and questions! For more information or to RSVP, please CLICK HERE

We invite you to join Hillel at UCLA for Passover Seders and Meals. For more information or to RSVP, please CLICK HERE.

Israel Update

As you may have heard, it’s Palestine Awareness Week on-campus at UCLA. Though this event happens every year, UCLA experienced national attention on Monday when the campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, printed an op-ed cartoon featuring Benjamin Netanyahu violating the Ten Commandments.

Right away a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel students worked with Hillel at UCLA and the Anti-Defamation League to protest the cartoon. Based on our actions, UCLA administrators released a timely response, and the Daily Bruin issued an apology, retracted the cartoon from its website, and requested time to convene with Hillel leadership.

The cartoon prompted Hillel to release a petition suggesting practical steps to improve Campus Climate at UCLA, which you can sign by clicking here.

This week Hillel at UCLA helped mobilize a coalition of Israel-related and Jewish organizations to educate the campus community on Israel. Jewish and non-Jewish students have been counter demonstrating by flyer-ing all week on Bruin Walk with great success. On Wednesday, hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish students made pro-Israel shirts in the center of campus. And on Thursday, hundreds more will come together for a pro-Israel BBQ.

Next week, nearly 200 student leaders will come together to celebrate the importance of Israel to the United States and to advocate for a strong US-Israel relationship. Keynote remarks made by local elected officials will punctuate this impressive event which attracts campus influentials from every corner of UCLA.

Hillel at UCLA continues to be the backbone of UCLA’s vibrant Jewish life and strong Israel advocacy. We are grateful for your support which allows us to do this vital work.

Rabbi Aaron Lerner
Executive Director, Hillel at UCLA


Arielle Mokhtarzadeh, President of Bruins for Israel on campus this week.
Bruins for Israel is currently fundraising for their cause via their
On One Foot Campaign.


Please Join Us For These Exciting Events

These events are free and open to the public. RSVP information and event details below.
Saul Friedlander, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and professor emeritus of history at UCLA In Conversation with David Myers, Sadie and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA
WHEN: Thusday, January 12, 2017 - 7-9pm
WHERE: Hillel at UCLA

Triple Art Opening - Winter Quarter 2017
WHEN: Opens Thursday, January 26, 2017 - Opening Reception 7-9PM

WHERE: Hillel at UCLA

Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture with Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign-affairs columnist
WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 5:30PM

WHERE: Korn Convocation Hall, UCLA Anderson School of Management



In Conversation with Saul Friedlander, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and professor emeritus of history at UCLA
WHEN: Thursday, January 12th, 7pm
WHERE: Hillel at UCLA

Triple Art Opening - Winter Quarter 2017
WHEN: Opens Thursday, January 26, 2017 - Opening Reception 7-9PM

WHERE: Hillel at UCLA

Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture with Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign-affairs columnist

WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 5:30PM
WHERE: Korn Convocation Hall, UCLA Anderson School of Management




BRET STEPHENS is the foreign-affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. He grew up in Mexico city and has reported stories from around the world. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2013. 

The Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture is sponsored by
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