Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Meaningful engagement at Stetson Hillel

 

September 11, 2020

Stetson Hillel students "feeding" themselves with engaging conversation around the Zoom screen until they can gather around the Shabbat dinner table.

Like most of our peer institutions, Stetson began fall 2020 in a hybrid model. Some students were on campus, some were at home, and all of them were online in some capacity. As the person charged with building community and helping to transition my freshmen to campus, it occurred to me that engagement - meaningful engagement - was not meant to be done while being physically distant. How for instance, can the community not be together to celebrate the High Holidays (side note: my slogan for this year was going to be Don't Atone Alone ... sigh) when the prayers are written in the plural? When we say "al chet shechatanu lefanecha" we are saying for the sin we have sinned before you. We. It's all of us.

And that got me thinking. Perhaps a global pandemic is just what we need to take stock of what we the individual can do to be better this year.

This year at Stetson Hillel, we will be better about encouraging each other when the masks become an emotional burden. This year at Stetson Hillel, we will be grateful for the health that we have and not worry about the 'freshman 15.' This year at Stetson Hillel, we will be mindful about our choices and how they impact the environment. This year at Stetson Hillel, we will enjoy the sunshine and the humidity because it is when we are outside that we can be closer together. This year at Stetson Hillel, we will focus on deeper connections, not more connections. This year at Stetson Hillel, we will feed ourselves with engaging conversations around the Zoom screen until we can feed each other matzah ball soup around the Shabbat dinner table. This year at Stetson Hillel we will bring care packages to those in quarantine or isolation so they can focus on healing and not worry about food and packages.

This year and every year at Stetson Hillel, we will be grateful that we have each other to listen to, support and cherish. And that is meaningful engagement.

L'shana tovah and may it be so!

Sam Friedman

Director Stetson Hillel

 

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