FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWISH LIFE AT ELON

Jewish Life at Elon University supports students’ journeys, no matter the destination. We are a welcoming, lively, and inclusive community that provides an empowering, innovative, and joyful Jewish experience for all students; inspires discovery and ownership of personal identity; prepares students for life beyond college as leaders and community members; and embraces the dynamic diversity of Jewish traditions.

Elon Hillel is open to all students. Whether you are looking for a fridge full of food, a place to hang out or study, a way to meet other students, or somewhere to celebrate a Jewish holiday, you are always welcome. Our Hillel is a judgment-free zone, and there are no dues or requirements.

How large is the Jewish population at Elon?

The Jewish community at Elon is vibrant and growing, and currently comprises at least 12% of the total student population of the university. The class of 2025 was 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 house, with a comfortable open plan living/dining room, a large vegetarian (pareve) kitchen full of food, a meeting room, a lounge, and beautiful outdoor seating. The house has been carefully refurbished to meet physical distancing guidelines with comfy chairs, tables, and sofas.

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, unwind with friends, or chat with the professional team. We have a spacious backyard (the Outback) which serves as the gathering place for our Hillel community, and is where most of our events take place, weather-permitting.

What is the role of the Jewish Life professional team?

Jewish Life at Elon University supports students’ journeys, no matter the destination. This means that the doors of the Sklut Hillel Center 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. Our Jewish Life team is comprised of dedicated and caring professionals who are resources for students and parents alike.

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 every incoming Jewish student to the campus community and to Elon Hillel. Interns create strong relationships with the first-years, invite them to coffee, introduce them to other first-year students, and answer any and all 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 Weeks of Welcome (WOW), designed to help first-year students find their place at Elon, offer small group and virtual programs from an Ice Cream Social to our popular Thai and Tie Dye gathering to group dinners at the campus dining halls.

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 spacious backyard is the place for our larger Jewish community gatherings!

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 smaller dinner gatherings featuring conversation and a feeling of home. Our Shabbat in a Box program provides students with the makings to welcome Shabbat in their dorm room or apartment, and includes a fresh-baked challah, tea light candles, grape juice, and some suggestions for prayer. Our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services are led by student prayer and song leaders and supported by our Jewish Educator. And we also offer Havdalah ceremonies to provide students a different way to celebrate Shabbat and the return to the workweek. At Elon, we have a meaningful way to say “Shabbat Shalom” for everyone.

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, and Passover.

Jewish students at Elon University celebrate the High Holidays together, free of charge, in a welcoming environment. Each year, we gather for communal meals, and offer engaging services and meaningful 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.

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.

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 and disposable cutlery are also available. Although the kitchen and dining halls are not under rabbinic supervision, Chair of Religious Studies Professor Rabbi Geoffrey Claussen has met with Elon Dining and reviewed recipes, ingredients, and food preparation procedures. Grab-and-go strictly 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. Although not every single item in our kitchen has a heksher, we do not permit any treif in our house.

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

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!

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 Israeli cooking classes at the Sklut Hillel Center, the Hebrew Club – a space for Hebrew conversation – and programming for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

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 provide a way for all students to safely participate in Jewish community events. Vaccinations and boosters are required for Elon students, and as of September 15, 2021, 96% of all students and 91% of all full-time employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.