The Jewish Community at Endicott College unites Jewish students and non-Jewish students to educate about the culture, and host local events.
“We feel our responsibility is to bring experience of Jewish life, culture, and ways of thinking to the campus for everybody to experience,” Amy Cohn, the Faculty Advisor of the Jewish Community, said.
The club is run by Cohn and Anthoula Shulman, ‘21.
“What we really want to foster is a community or events where people can come and know it’s going to be cozy and homey,” Cohn said.
The club hosts events often to allow Jewish students who may not be able to make it home to celebrate the holidays with family and religious communities, at Endicott “so they can have that feeling of participating and being with family,” Cohn said.
There are around 35 members of the Jewish Community including both Jewish and non-Jewish members.
Last year, Cohn volunteered to become the advisor of the club after the previous three to four years had seen multiple changes between advisors of the club and chaplains.
Cohn attributes the work of 2018 Endicott College graduate Aaron DuBois to keeping “Jewish life here alive”.
DuBois’s birthright trip to Israel, a free trip offered to all young adults with at least one Jewish grandparent or parent, inspired the want to incorporate Jewish life as part of his college experience. It was originally difficult for DuBois’ efforts to gain traction with the changes in advisors and chaplains.
Last year, Cohn and Brianne McGann, the Assistant Dean of Students, discussed the vision they wanted for the club.
“We’re doing a more modern take on an ancient faith,” Shulman said.
In order to start up again last year, the Jewish Community collaborated with other clubs for different events, such as the Christian Community, Constellation (the interfaith choir), and the Intercultural Club.
The club hosts around two events every month for the length of the school year, with a greater concentration of events surrounding the High Holidays.
“It’s a very fun and open experience,” Shulman said.
Some of the major events the club has hosted so far this year include Tashlich, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and Yom Kippur Break the Fast events and services.
Tashlich is a Jewish New Year celebration where you throw bread into moving water, which is symbolic of casting away your shortcomings and returning to your true self.
“Tashlich is such a releasing experience because you get to cast your sins away,” Shulman said.
During Hanukkah last year, the club ordered a menorah for everyone that came to their event, so everyone could experience what it was like to light Hanukkah candles, hear the story, and play the dreidel game. Family members came, too.
“It was the personification of what the holiday should be,” Cohn said, “of being close, being together, and just relaxing.”
Last year, the club won an award from Endicott Clubs and Organizations because they brought all of the major parts of Hanukkah to Endicott, including the history, ritual, the games, and songs.
The club also hosts Shabbat dinners on Friday evenings once a month. During the Shabbat dinner, everyone lights a candle and the whole chapel is filled with candlelight.
“It’s really beautiful and illuminating,” Shulman said.During the dinner, the club has Shabbat prayers and Constellation sings Jewish texts. Sometimes Gail Cantor, the chaplain, holds a meditation and people contribute.
“We separate our crazy, busy, active lives and just relax with each other,” Cohen said.
In November, the Jewish Community is partnering with the Psychology and Yoke Clubs to put on a speaker series of people who advocate for domestic violence victims.
Soon, the Jewish community will support a local synagogue in helping out at a local homeless shelter.
Though the events have some connection to Judaism, any person of any faith can attend.
Cohn said that many of the students go to the events not knowing what to expect, but they always say that it was so much more than they ever hoped for.
“The right number of events done really well is more important than anything,” Cohn said.
The next event for the Jewish Community is a Shabbat dinner on Friday, October 12 at 5pm in the chapel.
The Jewish Community at Endicott College can be found on Instagram @thejewishcommunity and on Facebook at The Jewish Community at Endicott College.