Hillel SV’s Jewish Life programming focuses on three main areas: promoting Jewish arts and culture, advancing Jewish knowledge, ideas, and values, and strengthening the global Jewish community.
Shabbat Dinners are a highlight each week, and among the most successful programs at Hillel of Silicon Valley. Students from all five of our campuses, recent alumni, and young adults from the community gather at Hillel for a Jewish connection and a free meal. Shabbat dinners are an opportunity to see old friends and meet new friends—it’s a great experience for students.
Shabbat dinners are held at Hillel SV in San Jose house every Friday night when school is in session. Students gather for a Kosher-style, home-made Shabbat dinner beginning at 7 PM. Once a month, we offer a Kabbalat Shabbat service which begins at 6:15 PM prior to dinner. Throughout the year, many of our Shabbat dinners include special cultural themed foods, guest speakers, and holiday celebrations.
In the words of the students:
“The food and the company are the best! I usually only miss it if I am going somewhere else for Shabbat.”
“I think Shabbat dinners (at Hillel) are great! I don’t see a need to change anything.”
“I like the people. It is really a homey environment.”
“I like Hillel Shabbat dinners because you can hang with other Jews and have your weekend begin with friends.”
If you are interested in cooking for a Shabbat Dinner, or you would like to sponsor or co-sponsor a Shabbat dinner please contact Mitch Reitman, Assistant Director at 408-775-7532.
Holidays provide a wonderful tableau for connecting students with their Judaism. They are filled with traditional foods, rituals, symbolism, and meaning. Many of our students do not really understand some of the holidays and have not celebrated them in their homes. This segment of our programming elevates their Jewish literacy through informal Jewish education and increases student’s Jewish identification and involvement in Jewish communal life.
For each holiday we organize events that may take place on our campuses and/or at Hillel House. For events like Chanukah and Purim, we will hold celebrations at a central location on campus so that the entire campus community can be exposed to Jewish culture.
Some of our students’ favorite holiday programs include:
Sukkot: Sukkah building and decorating, Shakhuka in the Sukkah, movie under the stars, Torah study in the Sukkah focusing on Sukkot and its traditions, Sukkot Shabbat dinner, etc.
Chanukah: Latke and sufganiyot making, Public menorah lighting, Chanukah party, toy drive, menorah making, dreidel making and playing
Tu B’Shvat: A festive Tu B’Shvat Seder featuring tree fruits and an educational component about the environment. Students have also planned Tu Bishvat hikes.
Passover: Every year, students and staff clean the kitchen in preparation for Pesach (Passover). Our students will often prepare food such as tasty matzah brei and matzah-lasagnas that they can enjoy during the week. We hold a beautiful Seder dinner annually at the Hillel house. We also sponsor special theme seders (e.g., interfaith, social justice) at several of our campuses.
Students organize many types of social events for students to come together to enjoy each other’s company. These events have included barbecues, ice cream socials, happy hours for students over the age of 21, karaoke, game nights. The sky is the limit.
Some of our students favorite social programs include:
Shabbaton Camping Trip: Students from all our schools are invited to gather to celebrate Shabbat outdoors at Balaban Ranch in San Jose. Together students help one another to put together their tents and help prepare dinner. Those in attendance also participate in fun interactive activities about Judaism and Israel.
Break Fast: After a long day of fasting for Yom Kippur, students are invited to come to Hillel to enjoy a festive dinner that may include a movie or an interactive activity.
Professor at the Bar: Professors from our campuses lead discussions ranging from a variety of relevant topics. Students 21 are invited to attend the program, which is held at a local restaurant or bar.