Keeping It Kosher
New Hillel House Enhances Jewish Life on Campus
Rabbi Kate Palley, director of Jewish life, enthusiastically opened the doors to the new Hillel House on Jan. 24. Located at 406 University Ave., the house serves as a communal space for the Susquehanna Jewish community and provides Palley with office space.
Hillel moved into the house over winter break. “We didn’t really do anything with the space until this semester, which is why we wanted to have an open house the first weekend people were back on campus,” Palley says.
The open house drew dozens of people from both Susquehanna and the larger community. “It was wonderful to see members of the SU community and beyond come to support and celebrate with Hillel,” says Rachel Gilbert ’11, president of Hillel.
In March, Palley led a Passover Seder for 200 participants, the first event of its kind and scale in the school’s history. The meal attracted, students, faculty, administrators and the public.
Visitors to the open house came to explore the space and to hear who won the art contest associated with the celebration. The contest asked members of the Susquehanna and Selinsgrove communities to fashion a representation of creation on a specially sized canvas, using any medium.
Kelly Kuros ’12 won the contest. “I suppose everyone thinks of sunrises as a metaphor for creation, so that was my idea from the beginning, but I knew I needed to make it interesting, which is why I painted it in a grid pattern, to add a little bit of modernity to the piece,” Kuros explains.
“Every time I look at it I notice something different. That’s one of the gifts of the piece,” says Palley.
There were a total of nine entries, all of which now adorn the walls of the Hillel House. “They’re all beautiful in different ways,” says Palley. “They really make the space lively.”
As Palley’s first year at Susquehanna winds down, she is looking to future opportunities to expand Jewish life on campus. “My goals were to figure out how to make a uniquely Susquehanna Jewish culture. To take what is here and just give it energy and resources and make it more,” she says.
The opening of the Hillel House has given Palley a good cornerstone on which to build her programming. “Having a house for us means having a home and having a place that has a kosher kitchen, so Jews, no matter how they practice, will feel comfortable eating here,” Palley says.
But the Hillel House isn’t just for Susquehanna’s Jewish community. Palley says it’s open to anyone who wishes to learn more about Jewish culture and religion. “Everyone is welcome all the time. Events that we have here are never exclusive to the Jewish community.”
Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Heather Cobun ’10, a communications and political science major from Eldersburg, Md.; Adam Hinshaw, a freelance writer from Lewisburg, Pa.; and Julie Nicolov, a freelance writer from Trevorton, Pa.