With support from President Devorah Lieberman and Chaplin Zandra Wagoner, a group of students this semester formed Hillel, a student organization hoping to bring Jewish culture and traditions to campus.
“Diversity is one of the pillars of the University of La Verne,” said Visiting Professor of Television Jake Huberman, adviser to Hillel, “The only way to be diverse is if different groups on campus feel they’re represented.”
Wagoner introduced Hillel President Caleb Ulrich to Huberman. Ulrich, a junior religion major, transferred to the ULV from Azusa Pacific.
“After spending time in a highly Christian community, I’d seen what it’s like to be (a) minority,” Ulrich said. “Although there is more diversity here, I feel there’s a need … for people of minority traditions to be able to consider themselves a family.”
“It sounded kind of interesting,” said Hillel social chair Alon Dina, a junior philosophy and theatre arts major. “I think this school is really good at being humanitarian and recognizing all religions, but I just think we need to bring up Judaism a little more.”
“Next to New York, Los Angeles has the highest Jewish population of any city in the United States,” Huberman said.
Hillel plans to create a Jewish community and provide an opportunity for students to celebrate and discuss Judaism.
“I think it’s important for anyone to be multicultural,” Ulrich said, “But to still remember where you came from, a lot of people just throw the past away.” Discussion of identity and spirituality are also on the agenda.
“I tell my students it’s not enough to be a good filmmaker, or biologist,” Huberman said. “You have to make good souls out of ourselves, and part of that is exploring our faith, and the good news is it’s a lot of fun.”
In addition to Jewish cultural matters, Hillel plans to discuss religion, food and films during club meetings.
“Our goal … it’s not so much to have a religious experience, but to taste Judaism, to experience it, to have fun,” Huberman said.
Hillel plans to work with other campus clubs in philanthropic endeavors.
“The students are really passionate about this,” Huberman said. “They’re really real.”
Karo Chakhlasyan can be at firstname.lastname@example.org.