Hillel House Encourages Cultural Diversity: Organization Holds Events and Provides Inclusive Space for Jewish Students and Others

By Molly Igoe
News Editor

The Roy P. and Nan Ans Hillel House is a quaint white house that sits on 313 Washington Ave., in between Minta Martin Hall and the Sears Publication House. It is the center of Jewish life on campus, named after Roy P. Ans, Class of 1963, and his wife Nan Ans.

Although Hillel, the student-run Jewish organization on campus, is for Jewish students on campus and in the community, everyone is welcome to attend events.

The Hillel House is located next to Minta Martin. It is an inclusive enter for all students to study and complete schoolwork.
The Hillel House is located next to Minta Martin. It is an inclusive enter for all students to study and complete schoolwork.

Senior and Hillel President Ethan Trucker encouraged students who are not Jewish to come to the events centered around Judaism to learn and ask questions.

“It’s not rude to interrupt or to ask questions during the [Shabbath] service, because it’s just one of the students leading the service. We’re all more than willing to answer questions,” Trucker said.

Shabbath, senior and Vice President of Hillel Amy Akell said, is celebrating the end of one week and the beginning of the next; Trucker compared it to Sunday church service.

There will also be High Holy Day services for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur run by the local Jewish community, which will be held at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on 101 N. Cross St..

Akell and Trucker emphasized that Hillel is more of a cultural organization that aims to teach people about Jewish practices and customs beyond a religious standpoint.

“The purpose of Hillel, especially with us being on a smaller campus, is to talk about Judaism to give them another experience to learn about what Judaism is, what we do, and learn values, but not necessarily be religious,” Akell said.

Tya Pope, assistant director for intercultural affairs, agreed with the sentiment that the Hillel House is open to students of all backgrounds.

“I think that having this space on campus is valuable for people to come together to talk about different issues and collaborate with a group that may be focused generally on Jewish identity, but really isn’t focused solely on that identity,” she said.

Akell said, “We have events that aren’t just related to Judaism, like the movie nights. Since this is such a small campus, we really want to open it up to everyone, not just Jewish students.”

Events going on this semester include several Shabbath dinners and services, a movie night, a documentary showcase with the Black Student Union, and an Interfaith Bonfire in October.

Over the summer, computers were added to the Hillel House, making it an ideal space to study and hang out with friends. Trucker reiterated that the space is open to all students who want to use it as a study space; especially for people on that side of campus.

“Having the house introduces people to understanding some of the cultural and religious practices of the faith. When you walk into the house, the first thing you notice is the kosher kitchen. That prompts questions like ‘Why is that kosher,’ and ‘What does that mean?’ You see all the candles, and the plethora of books on a variety of topics,” Pope said. “I find the dinner table a really great conversation piece; just talking about the fact that they have Shabbath dinners there, and what does that mean.”

Hillel mainly meets on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. about once a month. For questions about meetings and events, you can contact Trucker at etrucker2@washcoll.edu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *