Director's Corner Brett Schwartz

During our Fridays at Five services in November, we had the chance to celebrate Shabbat together outside, a rarity for this time of the year in Lexington. As we enjoyed the last bit of the setting sun, we had the opportunity to answer two of my favorite questions of all time: "What was your favorite part of the week?" and "What are you thankful for?

We rarely take the time to sit, relax, breath, think about our week and all the good around us, and ponder what we are  thankful for. This year, for the first time since Thanksgiving became a federal holiday, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlapped-Thanksgivukkah. This new ‘holiday', coined by a nice woman from Boston, gave us the chance not only to give thanks, but also to appreciate the traditions we hold as a Jewish community.

One of the Jewish traditions I am thankful for is the concept of tikkun olam(repairing the world). We are fortunate to have two very eager students, Maya Epelbaum and Caroline Birdrow, on our student board this year who really want to make a difference in our community.

Each holiday season, our students have the opportunity to buy clothes for students in the elementary school through the Novack Fund, but this year, the students took it a step further. Maya and Caroline learned that there were also high school students in our community who did not have proper clothing for the winter months. They immediately organized a clothing drive for the local high school. The first morning after a donation bin was placed by
the door to the Hillel House and flyers were posted, the bin was already full.

Next, Montrose Grandberry, one of the staff members in the university library, volunteered to help out; not only did she put a clothing drive bin in the library, her church donated over four boxes of clothes from their rummage sale!

Teaching, educating, and promoting tzedek (righteousness), gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness) and tikkun olam are core values of W&L Hillel. Hillel
engages with students and empowers them to grow intellectually and spiritually, and it encourages them to think creatively about social justice while bringing about meaningful social change.

I am excited and looking forward to the continued growth of W&L Hillel's community service programs and expanding our ability to make a difference
in our community and the world.

Brett Schwartz, Hillel Director