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 signer meetings 5-6 Spiritual Life Office, Fridays: Learning/services at 5:30pm Shabbat Dinner at 6pm
Contact Information
Signer Information
Signer 1: Michelle Lifson
Signer 2: Gabe Benvenuto Ladin
Signer 3: Gabriel Shapiro
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

The Hampshire College Jewish Student Union is a campus community dedicated to serving all those interested in exploring what it means to be Jewish. We provide a variety of programming, weekly farm-to-table Kosher Shabbat dinners, holiday programs, dinner conversations and individual advising on spiritual concerns.

Join our listserv.
Click the link immediately above and under the "Subscribing to Jewish" section, fill out any desired information and click Subscribe.

Also, Join Our Facebook Page!

Weekly Shabbat Dinner Event

Every Friday night at 6 PM, the JSU hosts Shabbat dinner in the Merrill Living Room. This is the a primary way that the JSU helps to create a home for students at Hampshire. Since all college students need a home away from home, the JSU is committed to providing this for everyone who chooses to join us. Every week student volunteers prepare a Friday night meal together. Coming together to cook and enjoy a meal is a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and build bonds on campus.

We also hold a student-led singing service beginning at 5:30PM to help usher in the sacred time of Shabbat. Every body is welcome, whether you are Jewish or not!

Shabbat Cooking and Clean Up - Earn CEL-1 Credit!

If you are interested in helping with cooking or clean up for Shabbat please sign up here!! Thank you for your help! =] CEL-1 credit available!!

November 7th
Cooking 1. Luna 2. 3.
Clean Up 1. 2. Michelle Lifson 3.

November 14th
Cooking 1. Michelle Lifson 2. 3.
Clean Up 1. 2. 3.

December 5th
Cooking 1. 2. 3.
Clean Up 1. 2. 3.

December 12th
Cooking 1. 2. 3.
Clean Up 1. 2. 3.

There are many ways to help build the JSU and you can earn CEL (I and II) units by doing so. We are always looking for artists, musicians, cooks, cleaners, organizers, writers, graphic designers as well as helpers of all sorts! Contact Ellen at if you'd like to earn CEL-1 units!

Open Weekly Meeting

Every Wednesday at 4:30 in the Spiritual life office, Ellen Bernstein, the JSU signers and Jewish life interns on campus meet. Here, we organize and plan upcoming Jewish life events we reflect on Jewish life at Hampshire; what can we do to build a more vibrant community? how can we serve the community most effectively? How can we strengthen our unique skills? Our meetings help us to learn more about ourselves--our strengths and weaknesses, and help us become more confident leaders--we acquire great skills for living! This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse oneself in Jewish life on campus! Feel free to come sit in on one of our meetings!


The JSU creates opportunities for all Jewish students to observe holidays. For the High Holidays we organize a van to go to the local temple, the Jewish Community of Amherst, to observe with a larger community. We provide festive meals for all holidays. Tu B'Sh'vat is one of the highlights of the Hampshire Jewish calendar with a large ecologically oriented Tu B'Sh'vat seder embellished with music and art. For Sukkot, we build and decorate a Sukkah with the fruits of our harvest, and host events in it throughout the duration of the holiday. We hold a beautiful seder for Passover--usually on the first night-- and provide kosher for Passover foods that people can prepare for lunch and dinner every day of Passover. We encourage students to come celebrate holidays with us in any way that is comfortable for them!

Other Programming

The JSU aims to offer programming for students to explore the varieties of Jewish experience and Jewish identity. Ellen Bernstein offers Torah Study classes twice a week: A Taste of the Prophets and The Biblical Portion of the Week. The Torah provides an entry point for meaningful conversation and the flowering of wisdom and compassion. You don’t need to be Jewish, speak Hebrew or be familiar with Torah to enjoy Torah study. Everybody is welcome!

We also host conversations frequently regarding topics of interest. Two talks that we have hosted recently include “Why Pray?” and also “Why be Jewish?” We are open to hearing ideas from students, too. Additionally, each week before Shabbat dinner we have a “student led service” full of singing!

We also do cooking events! The JSU has hosted Challah baking in the past. An experienced Challah baker leads a group of students through making home-made Challah!

Ellen Bernstein – Advisor for Identity and Praxis, Rabbi, JSU Guide

Ellen Bernstein is the advisor for identity and praxis at Hampshire College. She also serves as the campus rabbi. Ellen works closely with the JSU signers to help coordinate events, provide Jewish content and leadership development.

Ellen is particularly interested in the intersection of the secular and the sacred, and finds the spiritual alive in the material and natural world. The Hebrew word for God, literally translated, means "being" or "existence," and Ellen finds holiness in all dimensions of life. As advisor for identity and praxis, Ellen sees her work as opportunity to engage members of the Hampshire community in an exploration of the questions: Who am I? and How am I to live? Ellen is also a certified life coach and loves helping people find meaning and purpose in their lives. She is delighted and honored to serve the Hampshire community, and welcomes conversation with all students, faculty, and staff, and in particular, anyone who is navigating difficult places in life, or seeking deeper meaning and fulfillment.

Ellen also founded the first national Jewish environmental organization, Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth, and has written several books on Judaism and ecology. She enjoys discussing and teaching environmental philosophy/theology to all who are interested.

To learn more:

Please feel free to contact Ellen 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 mod 82 in Prescott. It is a 4 person mod, all singles. They actually have several openings currently. Please check out the intentional housing communities page for more information as well as the Kosher mod application form.

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. We welcome all students from all of the colleges to come participate in JSU!

Additionally, Amherst is home to the Jewish Community of Amherst, a Reconstructionist-affliated shul. Hampshire students go to the Jewish Community of Amherst for services for the High Holidays.

Northampton is home to Congregation Bnai Israel, which is Conservative. Both temples are very welcoming and encourage Hampshire students to attend, and Hampshire students are members at both. 

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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