Jewish Student Union

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Jewish Student Union
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Meeting Information
Place: Merrill Student Life Building- Living Room, Dining Room, and Kosher Kitchen
Time: Wednesdays: JSU student group meetings 6-7 Merrill Living Room; Fridays: Learning/services at 5:30pm Shabbat Dinner at 6pm Merrill Living Room
Contact Information
Signer Information
Signer 1: Michelle Lifson
Signer 2: Gabe Benvenuto Ladin
Signer 3: Daniel Weiss
Advisor Information
Advisor name: Liza Neal
Signer Resources
Group Account Number: 648
Submit a Funding Request
Funding Request Decisions
Student Group Signer Manual


Mission Statement

We aim to create a flourishing, fulfilling, and pluralistic Jewish community on campus to serve the needs of the Jewish student body. We provide both religious and cultural programming in order to help Jewish students maintain and grow their Jewish identity and observance throughout their time at Hampshire College. We host weekly Shabbat gatherings where we create and sustain community, providing a space for Hampshire students to explore Jewish identity, learn together, and just hang out! In addition to Shabbat Services and dinner, we also celebrate other Jewish holidays with services, meals and parties. We run different programs focusing on Jewish learning, meditation, discussion and a range of other cultural, religious and spiritual activities. We strive to be a pluralistic community and pride ourselves on our diversity. Everyone is welcome at our events!

Join our listserv.

Weekly Shabbat Dinner Event

Shabbat is the main way that we create community together. We host Shabbat dinner and services every week! Come for one, or both! Services and/or learning is at 5:30pm, dinner is at 6pm, both in the Merrill Living Room. Services are led by students, the rabbi, or a visiting guest. We strive to create a pluralistic community that feels like home, and our services reflect this. Some services are mostly in English, some contain only Hebrew, sometimes we use musical instruments, and we've been known to use niggunim from both Carlebach and Debbie Friedman. Shabbat dinner is cooked by students in the Merrill Kosher Kitchen, and is dairy and can have vegan options if requested. Are you interested in cooking for Shabbat? Spiritual Life has a work-study student who will take you food shopping (or buy the food for you if you'd prefer) and then supervise and help you cook in the Kosher Kitchen. Sign up to cook by yourself or with friends! (Get in touch with the signers to sign up.) Everyone is welcome. Bring a friend!

Open Weekly Meeting

We hold open weekly meetings as a time to organize and plan what Jewish Life on campus is. We organize the Shabbas', other events, community speakers, trips and much more. While our weekly Shabbas dinner is a place to gather individuals from every corner interested in a warm and welcoming Spiritual experience, our weekly meeting is a functional planning session. We are interested in getting as many opinions as possible please feel free to join us!


The JSU and Hampshire College provide programming for all Jewish holidays that occur during the school year. We have rabbinical students lead services on Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, and students lead programming for other holidays. We build a sukkah on the Dakin-Merrill Quad every Sukkot, have a Hannukah Party, host a seder for Tu BiShvat, and for Passover host two seders (one traditional seder, one Freedom Seder.) During Passover, kosher for passover meals are available for everyone in the Merrill Kosher Kitchen. Every year Aliz: Queer Jews and Allies hosts a Purim Party, and SPICI also hosts a commemorative event for Yom HaShoah.

Other Programming

In addition to Shabbat and Holiday related events, we also do other programming! The rabbi hosts Lunch and Learns in SAGA on various Jewish topics (one last year was on Sex and Judaism.) Past events have included Making Omer Counters, a Jewish Open Mic, Making Menorahs with Lemelson, Making Tallitot, and hosting an open house in the Sukkah for the Five College Sukkah Hop.

Related student groups and other Jewish life on campus

Other Jewish student groups on campus include Aliz: Queer Jews and Allies, Students Promoting Israel Culture and Information (SPICI, pronounced "spicy") and the Yiddish Club. Aliz hosts various events throughout the semester on queer Jewish themes. SPICI hosts a weekly Shulchan Ivrit (Hebrew Table), and the Yiddish Club hosts a weekly Yiddish Tish (Yiddish Table).

Office of Spiritual Life

Hampshire's Office of Spiritual Life is home to Rabbi Rachel Schoenfeld, who is the coordinator for religion and political intersections. Rabbi Rachel works with the campus as a whole around discourse and dialogue working to bring opposing viewpoints together in productive conversation, increase understanding and education around the intersections of religion and politics. Rabbi Rachel also advises Jewish student groups and works with them around programming, holidays, and more. She is also the person to get in touch with if you are visiting Hampshire and would like to be hosted for Shabbat. Her email is rssa[at]

Merrill Kosher Kitchen

The Merrill Student Life Building is home to the Merrill Kosher Kitchen, which is where Shabbat dinners are cooked along with other meals for JSU and other student groups. The Kosher Kitchen can be used by students as their personal kitchen if they do not have access to another kitchen on campus which meets their needs. During Passover, the kitchen is kashered and is fully stocked with kosher for Passover food, available to any member of the Hampshire community. Looking for kosher food at Hampshire? The Merrill Kosher Kitchen is the place to find it!

The Kosher Mod (Prescott 82)

Hampshire also has a Kosher Mod, which provides a living space for students who keep kosher. The Kosher Mod is located in Prescott 82, and has four beds, all in singles. This mod does not go to the lottery. Three spaces in the mod are filled in the spring before the lottery, and one space is reserved for a new student. Students who wish to live in the Kosher Mod can pick up an application in the Housing Office.

Other Jewish Connections in the Valley

The other Four Colleges (Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Smith, and UMass) all have active and welcoming Jewish communities. There is also a Chabad that serves Hampshire, the Chabad of the Four Colleges. Additionally, Amherst is home to the Jewish Community of Amherst, a Reconstructionist-affliated shul. Northampton is home to Congregation Bnai Israel, which is Conservative. Both are very welcoming and encourage Hampshire students to attend, and Hampshire students are members at both.

Jewish Holidays 5772 (2011-2012)

  • Rosh HaShanah - Sept 28-30
  • Yom Kippur - Oct 7-8
  • Sukkot - Oct 12-19
  • Shemini Atzeret - Oct 19-20
  • Simhat Torah - Oct 20-21
  • Hanukah - Dec 20-28
  • Tu Bishvat - Feb 8
  • Purim - Mar 7-8
  • Passover - Apr 6-14
  • Yom HaShoah - April 18-19
  • Yom HaZikaron - April 24-25
  • Yom HaAtzmaut - April 25-26
  • Lag B'Omer - May 9-10
  • Yom Yerushalayim - May 19-20
  • Shavuot - May 26-28

Past Events

We host Shabbat services and dinners every week! Additionally, we have hosted the following events:

September 2011

  • Orientation Shabbat
  • Schmooze with the Jews: A Jewish Student Union Meet and Great
  • Bake Challah with JSU!
  • Rosh HaShanah Services
  • Yom Kippur Break Fast

October 2011

  • Sushi in the Sukkah
  • Family, Alumni and Friends Weekend Shabbat

November 2011

  • Sexpert Shabbat
  • Kosher Training

December 2011

  • Queer Jews and Allies Conference

January 2012

  • Trip to LimmudNY

February 2012

  • Tu B'Shvat Seder
  • Jewish Thought and Spirituality with Rabbi Eliezer Shore (at UMass)

March 2012

  • Bake Hamantaschen with JSU!
  • Passover Kosher Training
  • Making Candles for Shabbat

April 2012

  • First Night Passover Seder
  • Second Night Passover Freedom Seder
  • Chametz Party!
  • Designing Omer Counters

May 2012

  • Shabbat at the Yiddish Book Center
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