The Morris S. Fogelman Hillel at the University of Memphis has been a busy place this year. Between monthly Shabbat dinners and Havdalah programs, Kabballah classes with Beth Sholom’s Geo Poor, and playing pool with the Torah MiTzion group, it’s safe to say that we love our place in the community and are proud to facilitate connection between Jewish students and people of all ages. But we are most proud of our opportunity to host events for the entire community for the sake of good. Just look at our spring semester.
One of two crown jewels of spring is the annual Interfaith Seder. As many of you may know, our Hillel holds one large mock Seder. An invitation is extended to all members of the student body, Jewish community, interfaith community, and indeed the entire Memphis population. Anyone who wants to come is given a comfortable and active introduction to the traditions and story of the Passover holiday. Our goal is to showcase a beautiful and storied part of Jewish history that continues to hold a great degree of significance.
This year, in order to show the roots and expression of Jewish identity the world over, our goal was to show and participate in various ways that the Passover Seder is celebrated by the Jewish diaspora the world over. We then related those traditions expressed by the living community that is world Judaism back to the land of Israel and the way the people there can express it.
Under the direction of two amazing Hillel students, programming chairs Justin Waldrip and Liza Levko, more than 40 guests – of all national and religious identities – were treated to Sephardic matzah, the Italian tradition of lightly beating one another with onions to atone for our sins, a whole lot of horseradish, and a host of other wonderful and unique expressions of Jewish identity through traditions from all around the world.
Our second crown jewel is perhaps just as enriching, but showcases even more community involvement – the annual Yiddishe Cup Mini-Golf Tournament at Golf & Games. For the entirety of a Sunday afternoon, two courses of the Putt-Putt facility are graciously allocated for the family-friendly fun of our mini-golfing excursion and Silent Auction. Here attendees bid on assorted donated items from some of Memphis’ premier artists and businesses. This year, despite strong winds, light rains, and overall gloom, there was an amazing showing of golfers of the diminutive variety, both from within and outside of the Jewish community, who came to compete and score some trophies! And, of course, anyone who scores a hole in one is gifted a chocolate golf ball from Dinstuhl’s Fine Candy Company, giving everyone the proper motivation.
These annual events are two of the brightest examples of what Hillel does every spring semester. The opportunity to put these events on, and the subsequent amazing support that we receive from the community at large every single year for these and similar events, is what makes it worth it every single year. The fact that Hillel has found its way into the memories of so many people is an absolute privilege for us, and it will continue to be for students involved for years to come. So, if you are so inclined, keep Hillel in mind as the weather warms and things go into bloom each year, because that’s when some of the best times are to be had with the students of the Morris S. Fogelman Hillel.