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Hillel To Fund Events Promoting Jewish Life

By David H. Stearns, Contributing writer

First there were Undergraduate Council-funded room parties. Then the College pitched in to help pay for dry, campus-wide alternatives. Now, Hillel is stepping up to help defray costs for gatherings of a more cultural and religious nature.

In an effort to promote Jewish life beyond the corner of Mt. Auburn and Plympton Streets, Harvard Hillel has initiated a small grants program to help fund Jewish activities.

The program, which first became available last month through a link on the Hillel website, is aimed at making Jewish activities more affordable.

“The mission of Hillel is to be a catalyst of Jewish life on campus,” Hillel President Josh I. Rosenbloom ’05 said. “We wanted to make resources available from our budget so that we could help students, outside of Hillel, increase their Jewish experiences.”

Hillel will award grants for a variety of different Jewish cultural events, ranging from conferences with a Jewish theme to retreats with other Jewish students. According to Rosenbloom, the program is still in its infancy and the eligibility guidelines are still very loose. He said Hillel will take every request on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ll certainly listen to every request,” Rosenbloom said.

As of now, Hillel has not had to turn down anyone. The program received three applications in its first month-and-a-half, and Rosenbloom said Hillel awarded funds in each case.

Hillel has not allocated a set dollar amount from its budget to sustain the program as of yet because its leaders are not sure how popular the program will be. However, Rosenbloom said he is confident that Hillel can offer substantial help to all students seeking to enhance their Jewish experiences.

He said the small grants program will not fully fund any one event but instead is designed to help make these events more affordable.

Moshe S. Davis ’06 is one student who has already taken advantage of the small grants program. Davis had wanted to attend a conference in New York City on Education and Jewish Art. He applied for a grant and was awarded $38—about half of the total expenses. Davis never made use of the grant because of a time conflict that prevented him from going to the conference, but he said he is excited about the grants.

“I think that this is a commendable program for those interested in developing their own Jewish lives,” Davis said. “I certainly anticipate applying for other small grants in the future.”

In order to be considered for the grants, applicants must fill out an application which asks for a description of the event the applicant will be attending as well as the amount of money he or she will need. The application is available on the Harvard Hillel’s website:

“We’re looking forward to seeing the response,” Rosenbloom said. “Hopefully it will be a permanent program with a long life.”

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