FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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. In past, the Fiske Guide to American Colleges cited the quality of Jewish life as a significant factor in campus life for only 2 schools. One of them was the University of Michigan.
Which is the other school?
– Brandeis University
There are approximately 6,500 Jewish students at Michigan – 5,000 undergrads and 1,500 graduate students. This approximately 14% of the student body of UofM as they have an estimated 45,000 students on 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.
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.
Yes. Our Hillel takes hundreds of students to Israel on Taglit-Birthright Israel. We offer a winter trip (December/January) and a summer trip (May) each year. If you are a Jewish student between the ages of 18-26, you may be eligible for the free trip. If you would like more information about our trips you can contact Allison Bloomberg for more information.
There are additional opportunities for travel or study in Israel through Onward Israel and Masa programs. Contact Allison to learn more about these opportunities.
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.
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.
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. All Friday night Shabbat dinners are also free to all students.
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.
Visit our Engagement Platform for the most up-to-date 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 from students leading groups in areas which you have indicated an interest on your information card.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your student may not have come to the Hillel building (though more often than not we find he or she has participated but has not mentioned to you), but Hillel has certainly come to him or her. Your student has probably received our Welcome Packet in the mail over the summer, had chicken soup from our Jewish Penicillin Hotline delivered when he or she was sick, read Consider magazine, attended the Golden Apple lecture, joined us for our Students for Holocaust Remembrance Survivor’s Luncheon, or taken part in any of Hillel’s High Holiday or Passover services and meals on campus. Your student may also have been visited by a Hillel staff person in his or her Greek house or residence hall for programming in the house instead of in our building, bringing Jewish life to wherever students live.
Hillel, in some large measure, is 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. So when a great Phonathon student calls you or a donation envelope arrives in your mailbox, we ask you to consider: Would you have been as excited to send your son or daughter to Michigan if it weren’t such a great place for Jewish students? If your answer is not really, then please help us as generously as you can to help us continue to enrich the lives of Jewish students while they’re with us at UofM.
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.
Many parents continue to support Michigan Hillel after graduation because they are so pleased with and proud of the ways in which their student’s Jewish journeys were enriched through Hillel programs while on campus and event in their post-graduate life. Additionally, many parents of alum 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.
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 may be 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. Our Hillel provides a wide array of programming opportunities for students to be a part of, both inside and outside of our building – including in their Greek houses and homes or apartments all across campus through our Host At Home program. Our Hillel makes a concerted effort to meet students wherever they are and offer opportunities to be involved in Jewish programming.
We are available to talk to 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.
Students are young adults, and part of what makes Michigan Hillel so successful is that we treat them as such. 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. We welcome you to always reach out to our staff and in particular, you can contact Stacy Carroll, our Director of Advancement, with any questions, concerns, etc.
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.