FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWISH LIFE AT ELON

How large is the Jewish population at Elon?

The Jewish community at Elon is vibrant and growing, and comprises over 10% of the total student population of the university. The class of 2024 is the largest ever Jewish entering class in Elon University history, and our community grows every year.

What is the Elon Jewish community like?

There is no one kind of Elon Jewish student. Our community is intentionally pluralistic and welcoming of all students, Jewish and non-Jewish, and we support all students’ journeys.  Hillel at Elon is dynamic, student-run, and student-centered, with a variety of programs and opportunities for all students. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate in our diverse range of programs, as together we celebrate our own traditions and learn about others.

Is there a Hillel House at Elon?

Yes! The Sklut Hillel Center is our Jewish community’s home away from home on campus. We have a real home, with a comfortable open plan living/dining room, a large kosher dairy kitchen full of food, a meeting room, and beautiful outdoor seating. The house has been carefully refurbished to meet physical distancing guidelines.

All students know they can come by the house anytime – with their friends, Jewish and not – to study, pick up a grab and go snack, just unwind with friends, or chat with the Hillel staff. Our large and comfortable back yard (the Outback) will be the gathering place for our Hillel community this year, and students are always invited to sit on our patio, have a cold drink, and relax.

How does Jewish Life help first year students adjust to college life?

Before new students arrive on campus, one of our Engagement interns reaches out, welcoming incoming Jewish students to the campus community, and to Elon Hillel. Interns create strong relationships with the incoming students, invite them to coffee, introduce them to other first year students, and answer any and all of questions about life at Elon.

Hillel also offers a variety of events specifically aimed at First Year students to help ease the transition to college life and to meet other students. Our newly launched Weeks of Welcome (WOW), will offer small group and virtual programs from an Ice Cream Social to our popular Thai and Tie Dye gathering.

What kinds of activities does Hillel offer?

Our warm and welcoming Hillel is a place where students gather for bagel brunches and Israeli cooking classes, for small group Shabbat dinners, Hanukkah candle-lighting, and movie nights, to braid and bake for Challah for Hunger, and to get out the vote.

Elon Hillel offers social, cultural, educational, religious and spiritual, tikkum olam (community service), and Israel-related programs that are designed and planned by our students, with staff mentorship and support. We celebrate Shabbat every week, mark the Jewish holidays, and follow the rhythm of the Jewish calendar. Our incredibly fun programs meet the requirements for safe on-campus events, and our large backyard will be the place for our Jewish community gatherings!.

Does Hillel have a COVID-19 plan?

Hillel is a safe haven and home base for all Jewish students. Masks are required to enter the Sklut Hillel Center, like all indoor spaces on campus, and gathering our community safely is our primary goal. Students are always welcome to come by for grab and go food items, or to find a quiet study space that meets physical distancing requirements. Our engaging and fun programs will be offered outdoors for small groups, and we are developing a full array of virtual programs including online Shabbat services, book club gatherings, cooking classes, and more! We are excited about all the new ways to build community together.

Is there kosher food on campus?

Yes. At “Green World” in Clohan Dining Hall, all food is vegan/vegetarian, and is prepared with pots and pans that are used only for vegan and vegetarian food. Paper plates & disposable cutlery are also available.

Although the kitchen and dining halls are not under rabbinic supervision, our Hillel Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Professor Rabbi Geoffrey Claussen have met with Elon Dining and reviewed recipes, ingredients, and food preparation procedures. Grab-and-go kosher options are also available in select dining halls.

The Sklut Hillel Center boasts a dairy kitchen (meat-free), where students can come and grab delicious foods from the stocked pantry and fridge. This food is provided free of charge to our students thanks to the “Fill the Fridge” campaign supported by generous Jewish parents. Hillel also has an outdoor grill used to prepare kosher meat.

During Passover, the main dining halls offer matza and kosher-for-Passover style foods, and Elon Dining Services chefs also prepare strictly kosher-for-Passover home-cooked meals at the Sklut Hillel Center in our carefully kashered kitchen.

How does Jewish Life celebrate holidays?

Our campus Hillel community marks the Jewish Holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Yom HaShoah, Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), and Passover.

Jewish students at Elon University celebrate the High Holidays together, free of charge, in a welcoming environment. This year, we are planning engaging virtual services and physically-distanced activities that celebrate our traditions and create new ones. Our prayer services represent the vibrant spectrum of Judaism on our campus, and there are always plenty of opportunities for student participation..At Elon, Jewish students and community members observe and celebrate together.

Passover is our largest campus holiday event. Together, led by our students, we mark our annual community journey from slavery to freedom in new and creative ways, and with voices lifted in song.

Can I be excused from classes on Jewish Holidays?

Yes – of course, you can miss class for Jewish holidays. According to University policy, absence from class due to observance of a religious holiday is considered an excused absence. Students are required to fill out the Religious Observance Notification Form in advance, and discuss with their instructors when and how any missed assignments will be made up. If you have any questions about this process, the Jewish Life team will be happy to help!

How do you celebrate Shabbat on campus?

Every Friday night, we take time for food, community, and spirituality. Our intimate Tables for Chai are intentionally small dinner gatherings featuring conversation and a feeling of home. Our Shabbat in a Box program provides you with the makings to welcome Shabbat in your dorm room or apart,ment, and includes a fresh-baked challah, tea light candles, and some suggestions for prayer. And our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services are led by students and our campus rabbi. At Elon, we have a meaningful way to say “Shabbat Shalom” for everyone.

Is there a Jewish Studies program at Elon?

Elon offers a Jewish Studies minor, which explores the historical and contemporary experience of the Jewish people. A wide range of Jewish Studies courses are available for students, including courses in modern Hebrew and in departments including Religious Studies, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, History and Geography, Sociology and Anthropology, and English.  For more information, please see the Jewish Studies website.

Our Jewish faculty are actively involved in Jewish Life, and collaborate for many campus programs including FaculTea, which creates a space for open conversation between students and Jewish faculty and staff members over beverages and snacks, Israeli cooking classes at the Sklut Hillel Center, Café Ivrit – a space for Hebrew conversation, and programming for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

What other services does Jewish Life at Elon provide?

Jewish Life at Elon University supports students’ journeys, no matter the destination. This means that our doors are always open, and the Jewish Life team is always ready to listen, counsel, connect, mentor, nurture, and just be there for students however and whenever they need.

Who is on the Jewish Life team?

The Jewish Life team is comprised of Director Betsy Polk, Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life Rabbi Sandra Lawson, Assistant Director for Development and Strategic Communication Hillary Zaken, Jewish Life Engagement Coordinator Boaz Avraham-Katz, and Program Assistant Morgan Baker.