Shabbos at UMASS is the highlight of the week. There are frequently visiting schoalrs who join us for Shabbos and help enhance our community. There are Shabbat services at UMass every week. On Friday nights, the Conservative, Orthodox and Reform students sing Yedid Nefesh together before separating to their separate locations for services. Hillel provides a catered, free dinner. Following dinner, there’s usually an Oneg for all the students to enjoy, with singing, learning, eating, schmoozing, and unwinding from the week. Shabbos morning before davening there is a short shiur on the parsha and on long shabbos afternoons there is generally a shiur as well.
While there is currently no eruv, one is in the works.
Orthodox Life at the University of Massachusetts
Home to one of the strongest up-and-coming Orthodox communities, UMass is a great place to be Orthodox within the setting of Massachusetts’ flagship state university. Poised to grow into a stronghold of campus orthodoxy, the UMass community is small, warm, and close-knit. To learn more check out umassjilc.org
Kehillat Hillel Ha’azinu, the Orthodox Community at UMass
Formally founded in 2002, Kehillat Hillel Ha’azinu consisted of a small group of religious students interested in enjoying a traditional Shabbat atmosphere. Students would gather together each Shabbat to daven and eat together. This small difference sparked an entire new student group at the UMass Amherst Hillel! 50+ students strong and OU-JLIC educators, KKH has branched out from only making Shabbat minyanim to having daily davening, shiurim, and an entire community of Orthodox students.
Looking at the rapid pace that the community has grown over just a few short years, Kehillat Hillel Ha’azinu is poised to be one of the most prominent Orthodox campus communities.
KKH is run by a five-student board.
Hillel is the center of Jewish life on campus. Its largest ongoing programs are Shabbat Dinner with between 70-100 students on any given Friday night with three services taking place before the meal. They also have a monthly Beit Caf with live music with about 50-70 students. The Jewish community is not large enough for each denomination to exist unto itself. A strong value is placed on achdut and staff and student leaders do what they can to make sure Jews of all types are made to feel comfortable and welcome.
UMass Hillel likes to give student leaders support and resources to take their own initiative. Challa’ for a Dolla’ was started by the Jewish Woman’s Collective and Tzedek to raise money for Darfur. The Future Jewish Business Leaders of America traveled all over New England meeting with people they wanted to learn from. And as a mid-sized Hillel there’s always plenty of room for student leadership and enthusiasm to grow.
Orthodox students live all over campus with the majority choosing the Central or Orchard Hill Residential Areas. Both of these areas are near Franklin Dining Commons, where the kosher dining is located, and are minutes from the UMass Hillel House, which is in the southeast part of campus. Another option that many students choose to live is the JLLC (Jewish Living and Learning Community) located on the third floor of the Hillel House. Additionally, some students choose to live in off campus apartments/houses and are also within a 10-15 minute walk
Any student with questions concerning where to live should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are several options for kosher food in the Amherst area, a wide selection at local supermarkets, Kosher Dining, and Shabbat food at the UMass Hillel House.
The Kosher Dining Commons (KDC) is located in the Frankin Dining Commons, which is near Central, Orchard Hill Residential Areas. Most students who are on the meal plan choose to live in one of these areas because it’s near the DC. It is a meat only kitchen that’s open Sunday – Friday, from 11am to 7pm, and from 11am to 2:30pm on Fridays.
Shabbat meals are provided by the UMass Hillel House, are ALWAYS FREE to UMass students, including Friday night dinner, and Shabbat lunch. Friday night dinner is catered while Shabbat lunch is prepared each week by several dedicated Kehillat Hillel Ha’azinu students in cooking crews.
The KDC and Hillel are both under the Vaad of Springfield, Massachusetts.