Campus Link Newsletter
Indiana University Hillel: Your Jewish Home Away from Home
The Helene G. Simon Hillel Center serves as the center of Jewish life at Indiana University. For the past 17 years, Indiana University Hillel, and by extension student life at IU, has experienced a transformation from an organization focused solely on religious observances to a vibrant hub of diversity and educational programming and services, which impacts almost 35,000 students at Indiana University.
IU Hillel is a pioneer and leader in the field of student diversity work. The organization recognizes the holistic benefit of communities working together in order to embrace and learn from diversity, the organization works extensively on multi-cultural and diversity-focused programs for the entire Indiana University student and administrative community. Fostering a sense of community in an academic environment is linked to students’ success and ability to continue moving forward in their learning aspirations. These goals are directly driven from the organization’s central mission and are achieved through working with other student cultural groups on collaborative programming, to creating diversity workshops for residence hall staff, to working with the university to pioneer innovative racial incidence response teams that immediately respond to any crimes of hate on the IU campus.
On a day-to-day basis, IU Hillel’s primary goal is to serve as a “Jewish home away from home”. This is done through delivering matzah ball soup to students feeling sick or down, allowing students to stop in and grab a free snack or meal during their busy day on campus, and through a variety of engaging programs which appeal to an array of student populations. Instead of confining Jewish life to one particular building, multiple engagement opportunities are available each week including coffee hours on Kirkwood, work-out sessions at the Student Recreation Center, dorm programming opportunities, the Greek Jewish Council, and tailgating before IU football home games. Ongoing programs taking place inside the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center include Kosher Café three times each week, JHOP (Jewish House of Pancakes) on Thursday mornings, and Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Alternative to Shabbat services each Friday evening, along with a free Shabbat dinner.
Shaping tomorrow’s leaders is an ongoing emphasis. This is done through engaging students in leadership roles on the Hillel Student Leadership Board. These students lead committees of actively involved IU Jewish students in planning and executing all aspects of Hillel life. Their responsibilities include leading Shabbat services, planning and executing social events, inspiring others to be community activists through volunteer efforts in the Bloomington community at large, providing educational Israel programming, overseeing marketing and communications, and planning student-lead local fundraising efforts.
IU Hillel has made a strong impact on the campus community this academic year through efforts like Shabbat Across IU, where over 1,000 students were able to participate in a diversity-education focused Shabbat dinner hosted in multiple locations around campus, taking 60 students to Israel through Birthright, traveling to New Orleans with 40 students for an alternative spring break trip, empowering those in the Greek community to join together in community service through the Greek Jewish Council, and by combating hate during October’s ‘Moving from Hate to Harmony Week’ featuring Holocaust survivor Conrad Weiner, student panels, and a photo gallery. These are just a few of the many efforts on campus; learn more at www.iuhillel.org.
For more information, to learn how to support Hillel, or to get involved, email