Frequently Asked Questions

About

+ Why do so many Jewish students attend the University of Michigan?

Michigan attracts large numbers of Jewish students both because it is one of the most outstanding universities in the United States and because it enjoys a national reputation for being one of the best schools in the country for Jewish students. The 2012 Fiske Guide to American Colleges cites the quality of Jewish life as a significant factor in campus life for only 2 schools. One of them is the University of Michigan.

Which is the other school?

– Brandeis University

+ How many Jewish students attend the University of Michigan?

There are approximately 6,000 Jewish students at Michigan, making up almost 18% of the student body and representing approximately 2% of all of the Jewish college students in North America.

Culture

+ I’m thinking about applying to Michigan and would like to visit campus. 

Great idea!  If you are considering coming to Michigan it’s a good idea to visit campus and get a taste of what life is like here. In addition to getting an official U-M campus tour, Hillel can arrange for you to meet with students who can tell you more about Jewish life on campus.  Check out our Prospective Student page for more information.

+ I’m interested in learning more about Judaism and what it means to be Jewish.

Michigan Hillel staff is here to support your interests.  Contact us anytime to meet when it is convenient for you – at Starbucks on South U., on North Campus, or stop by Hillel.  If you are thinking about a term paper or class project on a Jewish subject or just want to explore some area of Jewish interest, a member of the Hillel staff will be glad to talk with you.  As well, Hillel also offers evening classes for students who want to learn more about Judaism and Jewish life.

We also encourage students to consider taking courses through the University of Michigan Frankel Center for Judaic Studies or the Department of Near Eastern Studies, which offers Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Check out Community Resources for more information.

+ I’m interested in going to Israel. Can Hillel help me get there? 

Yes. Our Hillel takes more students to Israel on Taglit-Birthright Israel than any other Hillel in the country. If you are a Jewish student between the ages of 18-26, you may be eligible for the free trip. Registration is already open for the Birthright trip in December 2017.  Contact Ariella Yedwab for information ([email protected]).

There are additional opportunities for travel or study in Israel beyond Birthright.  Contact our Masa Israel Interns (Ariella Yedwab, [email protected] & Stephanie Horowitz, [email protected]).

+ My professor has scheduled an exam on a Jewish holiday. What do I do?

The Provost’s Office of the University reminds the faculty every year of its policy regarding religious accommodation on campus.  It ensures that no student will have to violate his or her religious practices in order to take an exam and a reasonable alternative opportunity to make up work must be provided. Students are expected to inform their teachers of a conflict well in advance and faculty are expected to provide for a reasonable alternative unless they can demonstrate that doing so would interfere with the delivery of the course. Faculty members at Michigan are generally very supportive and accommodating. However, should you encounter a problem with getting an exam rescheduled you should contact the University Ombudsman to seek a resolution – the Ombudsman can be very helpful. Please also contact Hillel so that we can also follow up on your behalf.

+ Can I get personal counseling at Hillel?

Students can come to Hillel for short-term personal counseling. Whether it’s a personal or religious issue or a problem with a roommate, a friend or a professor, a member of the Hillel staff will be available and can be of help. For students seeking longer-term counseling, Hillel also makes referrals to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the University and to outstanding professionals in the Ann Arbor area.

+ How do I join Hillel?

Michigan Hillel has no formal membership.  Our Hillel isn’t an organization that students belong to – Hillel belongs to them. Anyone can attend Hillel’s programs, and any student who signs up for Hillel’s weekly newsletter, the Mich-Mash, is eligible to serve on and vote for the Governing and Programming Boards. While there are no dues, there is a charge for daily meals (other than Friday night Shabbat dinner) and some special events such as yoga classes, major lectures, concerts and films.

+ If I sign up on the Hillel mailing list will I start getting stuff from other organizations? 

Michigan Hillel does not share its mailing list with other organizations. When you sign up with Hillel, you will receive emails only from our Hillel staff or from a student leading a group in an area which you have shown interest. From time to time Hillel will forward information from other organizations that we believe might be of interest to students, but we don’t give out contact information about students to anyone without their permission.

+ How can I find out about Hillel-sponsored programs and events?

This website provides updated information about Hillel events. By filling out an information form online or in person, you will receive a weekly email with notices about programs, groups, and special events.  You may also receive emails or Facebook invitations from students leading groups in areas which you have indicated an interest on your information card.

+ I’m not Jewish but I’m impressed with a lot of the things Hillel does on campus. Would I be welcome?

While some of Hillel’s programs are intended primarily for the Jewish community at Michigan, most of what Hillel does serves the entire university community. Non-Jewish students get involved in Hillel groups, such as intramural sports teams, Maize & Blue Games, Consider magazine, the Golden Apple Award or TAMID Israel Investment Group, for the same reasons that so many Jewish students do – they are fun, exciting, important and look good on your resume when you apply to graduate and professional schools. Many Jewish students bring their non-Jewish friends to a program or Friday night Shabbat dinner to be a part of what Hillel has to offer to the campus community. Several programs may be limited to Jewish students only based on the organizers’ parameters for involvement, such as Taglit-Birthright Israel.

+ I’m Jewish but don’t consider myself religious. What does Hillel have to offer me?

While Michigan Hillel is proud of its diverse Jewish religious programming, the majority of program offerings every week are non-religious.  Hundreds of students participate each week in Hillel’s broad array of other cultural, social, political, intellectual and athletic programs because they want to be a part of the Jewish community and what Hillel offers to campus.  And if what you are interested in isn’t already offered by our Hillel then we want to support your ideas and Start a New Group.

+ I’m Jewish and traditionally observant. What does Hillel have to offer me? 

Jewish religious observance is easy to enjoy at Michigan. Hillel’s dining service provides kosher lunch and dinner daily as well as holiday meals. There are four Shabbat services on Friday nights as well as daily Orthodox services. Our Hillel also offers regular text-based learning from Rabbi Glogower and Rav Lisa Stella, as well as other educational programming delivered by our many student groups and staff.

+ How do I get involved in Hillel?

Michigan Hillel is home to over 50 independent student organizations and programs that sponsor events at the Mandell Berman Hillel Center and at many other venues across campus. Students are welcome to attend any of these programs and are encouraged to get involved in running them. For more information we encourage you to connect with our student leaders and staff.

Shabbat

+ Is it okay to just come for dinner without going to a service on Friday night?

Yes! Many students attend dinner without attending a service before.  But please RSVP for Friday night Shabbat dinner beforehand.

+ What do people wear to services or dinner?

You are welcome to dress as you like – some students arrive for services or dinner directly from class and are comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt while some students may choose to dress in formal clothing for Shabbat.

+ Who leads services?

Like everything else at Michigan Hillel, services are led by students.  There are lots of opportunities to get involved as well as participate. Learn more on the Religious & Spiritual Life page.

+ Do I need to join a service?

You are welcome to participate in any service and to try out new services you have never attended before. Check out the descriptions on the Religious & Spiritual Life page for more information.

+ When do services start at Hillel?

Friday night Shabbat service times vary throughout the year. Check out our Shabbat service times page or contact our office at 734-769-0500.

+ I never had anything to do with Hillel when I was a student at Michigan years ago. Why should I support it now?

If you are like many Jewish Michigan alums, you probably wish that Hillel had been like this when you were in Ann Arbor. The fact is that few Jewish community centers outside of the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan offer as wide an array of quality programs as Michigan Hillel. And the fact is that Michigan is now one of the major feeder schools for Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Israel advocacy organizations like AIPAC, Jewish service organizations like Avodah and the Joint Distribution Committee, and the Jewish Federations of North America.  Support for University of Michigan Hillel is an investment in the future of American Jewish life, and one which we are trying to ensure will continue to pay great dividends for all of us.

+ My student doesn’t go to Hillel. Why should I make an annual donation?

Your son or daughter may not have come to the Hillel building (though it’s possible he or she has and just hasn’t told you), but Hillel has certainly come to him or her. Your student has probably received chicken soup from our Jewish Penicillin Hotline when he or she was sick, read Consider magazine, attended the Golden Apple lecture or a Conference on the Holocaust luncheon or any of Hillel’s High Holiday services on campus.  Your student may have been visited by a Hillel staff person in his or her Greek house or residence hall, bringing Jewish life to where students live.

Hillel is in some large measure responsible for the rich culture of Jewish life on campus that sets an important tone even for students who may not be attending specific programs. Ask yourself this question: Would you have been as keen on sending your son or daughter to Michigan if it weren’t such a great place for Jewish students? If your answer is no, then please help us as generously as you can to help us keep it that kind of place.

Parents

+ My student graduated from Michigan. Why is Hillel still asking me to continue my support?

Many parents continue to support Michigan Hillel after graduation because they want to ensure that this kind of experience will be here for those who follow, and because they believe that the University of Michigan is a richer experience for everyone because of Hillel’s active presence here.

+ My student doesn’t go to Hillel. Why should I make an annual donation?

Your son or daughter may not have come to the Hillel building (though it’s possible he or she has and just hasn’t told you), but Hillel has certainly come to him or her. Your student has probably received chicken soup from our Jewish Penicillin Hotline when he or she was sick, read Consider magazine, attended the Golden Apple lecture or a Conference on the Holocaust luncheon or any of Hillel’s High Holiday services on campus.  Your student may have been visited by a Hillel staff person in his or her Greek house or residence hall, bringing Jewish life to where students live.

Hillel is in some large measure responsible for the rich culture of Jewish life on campus that sets an important tone even for students who may not be attending specific programs. Ask yourself this question: Would you have been as keen on sending your son or daughter to Michigan if it weren’t such a great place for Jewish students? If your answer is no, then please help us as generously as you can to help us keep it that kind of place.

+ My student was very involved in high school but doesn’t seem to want to get involved in Jewish life

We understand that college is a time to try out a wide range of new experiences, and that sometimes means putting some of the more familiar ones on hold for a while. This is sometimes true for students who were very active in Jewish organizations before coming to college, and particularly so for those whose parents are very involved in Jewish communal life. If he or she was very involved in Jewish life before coming to campus the chances are excellent that this will still be the case down the road.

We are available to talk to any parents who are concerned about any issues their students are facing on campus.  You can reach us any time at the office or on our cell phones. Contact information for the staff is here.

+ My student seems to be under a lot of stress. I’m really starting to get worried. Can Hillel help? 

Students are young adults, and part of what makes Michigan Hillel so successful is that we treat them like adults. We understand, of course, that stressful times for your student can mean stressful times for you. A call to a member of the Hillel staff who has considerable experience working with college students may help allay some of your concerns. Please also understand that we will respect the confidentiality of our conversations with you as we will those we may have with your son or daughter.

Occasionally a college student can be in serious trouble and a concerned parent doesn’t know where else to turn. Call us. If it’s after our regular office hours and there’s an emergency that you feel can’t wait, our night message will provide you with a number to call to have a member of the Hillel staff contacted at home at any hour. If your son or daughter is in trouble, don’t worry about waking us up. To put it simply, our bottom line is the same as yours: There is no one in the world more important than your kid.