Texas A&M Hillel
|Motto||"The First and Friendliest Hillel in the Nation!"|
|Rabbi Matt Rosenberg|
Texas A&M Hillel is a recognized campus student organization at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Aggie Hillel is the oldest Hillel Foundation organization in the United States. It is a student-run organization, sanctioned by Hillel International. The executive director is Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, who was ordained as a rabbi in May 2013 at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California.
Students participate in a wide variety of leadership opportunities including serving on the student board, expanding Hillel's campus outreach as engagement interns, and assisting message amplification as marketing interns.
The organization was founded in 1920, three years before the national Hillel Foundation was organized at the University of Illinois. Texas A&M Hillel began as the "TAMC Menorah Club" and was organized in 1916 by Dr. Jacob Joseph Taubenhaus (the chief of plant pathology and physiology at the Agricultural and Mechinical College in College Station), and his wife Esther Taubenhaus. In 1920, the group was renamed the "TAMC Hillel Club" with assistance from David Lefkowitz (rabbi) of Dallas.
In 1940, Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Reiser arrived in College Station; Dr. Reiser was a faculty member at Texas A&M. Dr. Reiser’s wife, Mrs. Shirley Reiser, took over as director from Esther Taubenhaus. After construction of the first Hillel building in 1958, Shirley became the director of the Texas A&M Hillel. One of Shirley’s favorite social activities for students was the Friday night dinner; the cadets couldn’t pass up a home-cooked meal away from military life.
From 1979 to 1980, Carol Parzen and Amy Mann were co-directors of Hillel. Carol continued in the position until 1983, with the arrival of Rabbi Tarlow. Rabbi Peter Tarlow came to Texas A&M Hillel in 1983 who would serve as Rabbi and Executive Director. The 1980s also saw the creation of the Brazos Valley's Reform synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, founded by faculty members who were seeking a congregation of their own. Hillel serves as a home away from home for Jewish students. Hillel began as a group of Jewish cadets and transformed into an organization serving the entire Jewish campus community.
Texas A&M Hillel has weekly programs which include Shabbat services and dinner almost every Friday night as well as other activities throughout the week to engage students and community members in Jewish student life. Other programs have featured a recent visit and show by Benji Lovett, Israeli advocate and comedian, the annual Hanukkah bash, speaker lunches, and programs about Israel advocacy and professional opportunities. Hillel also hosts "Spirit of Shabbat," which is an annual event where anyone from the community is invited to meet the Hillel staff and students and tour the building. At the beginning of each semester, Aggie Hillel has programs every day of the first week back to get students excited about the upcoming semester. To recruit future Jewish Aggies, Hillel works in conjunction with Texas A&M Chabad and the on-campus Jewish fraternity and sorority to visit the building and see the amazing opportunities that can be had as well as the numerous resources available as a Jewish Aggie!
Although the home of Texas A&M Hillel is the Schepps building, Hillel sponsors several on-campus events including movie screenings, Holocaust survivor presentations, and educational programs. Every Monday, students gather for "Mocha Mondays" at Sweet Eugene's in College Station to catch up with Hillel staff and take a break from the upcoming busy week. A birthright trip is also sponsored every semester for students who have never experienced Israel before to go on an all-expenses paid, peer group trip of Israel for ten days.
Aggie Students Supporting Israel
Texas A&M Hillel supports, Aggie Students Supporting Israel, a chapter of Students Supporting Israel. By engaging both Jewish and non-Jewish students alike, Aggie Students Supporting Israel, or ASSI for short, seeks to maintain the pro-Israel campus climate. With innovative programming such as an annual Israel fair and student leader dinner, ASSI educates students from across campus on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Chapter successes include passing a pro-Israel resolution the day before Israel's Independence Day and sending almost every student involved on its executive board to an Israel advocacy training or fellowship within two years, including sending the largest collegiate delegation to the 2014 AIPAC National Summit in Dallas.
Challah for Hunger
Challah for Hunger at Texas A&M is a chapter of Challah for Hunger. Hillel students volunteer their time every month to bake challah from scratch, and then sell it on-campus to raise funds for the Brazos Valley Food Bank and Mazon, a Jewish hunger response organization. Every month, hundreds of dollars are raised for these two organizations.
A. I and Manet Schepps Hillel Building
In 1958, Texas A&M Hillel opened up its first building of its own. During this period, some members of Temple Freda in Bryan, Texas left to attend services at the Hillel building in College Station, Texas. Presently, Temple Freda's Torah is under the care of Texas A&M Hillel.
The current A. I. and Manet Schepps Hillel Building was dedicated on October 14, 2012. The building features a balcony arbor, separate meat and dairy kitchens, student work spaces and study rooms, a 150-seat sanctuary, and a 95-seat lecture hall. A virtual tour of the Hillel building can be viewed online.
- Texas A&M Hillel History Texas A&M Hillel Retrieved on 2008-07-09
- From Christian Science to Jewish Science: Spiritual Healing and American Jews Oxford University Press page 160
- Gabrielle Birkner (2005-05-06). "A Cushy Fit In Bush Country". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on May 16, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas University Press of New England page 191