Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 16 November 2013.
Activities and Schedule
For the Hillel organization at the University of Kansas, Shabbat service is Friday evenings, followed by dinner. Special Shabbat services such as Leadership Shabbat or Freshman Shabbat are held occasionally on a larger scale and at different locations. Hillel members at the University of Kansas also participate in intramurals and social groups on campus, an Israeli dinner, and community service. On the KU campus they sponsor events such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel Day, Rock Chalk Jew Talk, or Jewish speakers, artists, and movies. A newsletter called “News for Jews” informs Jewish students of the numerous KU Hillel-sponsored events.
Jewish students at the University of Kansas created the KU Hillel Foundation in 1950. A significant number of Jewish students began to join in the 1970s. For services, members used a room in the KU Student Union until 1983, when they purchased the house on Mississippi Street. The house became the site of the KU Hillel Foundation as well as a home to Jewish KU students who were employed full-time by the Foundation. In 1998, the house was redone to function solely as a Jewish student center.
There is socioeconomic and geographic diversity within the KU Hillel Foundation because it is an organization of a large university; ethnically, most students are Caucasian. There are a few students from South America and Israel who attend Shabbat services at KU Hillel. There is also diversity in the different branches of Judaism represented. The primary language is English. Because it is a university organization, the majority of members are of college age.
The KU Hillel Foundation uses a blue, two-story house on Mississippi Street that is distinguished by a large sign on the porch announcing that it is the location of KU Hillel. Rooms in the house serve as offices, resource centers, and meeting rooms. The Shabbat service is held in an upstairs room equipped with folding chairs and displaying the flag of Israel. Students staff the house when it is open, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Computers and various forms of entertainment are available.
The Shabbat services are more informal than those conducted in a traditional Jewish Synagogue. They include more singing, and the leader addresses participants informally. The executive director, Jay Lewis, leads the services in his capacity as a lay person. He studied Judaism at the University of Kansas and worked with other Jewish communities across the nation before assuming his post at KU Hillel. Student members also assume leadership roles such as president or chairman of Shabbat services.
Student researchers were Susan Chandler, Tiffany Mamie, and Courtney McClain.