Last month, Hillel at Eastern Michigan University hosted their first Israeli Marketplace (“Shuk”). This exciting event provided students with the opportunity to connect with Israel on a cultural and culinary level, featuring Israeli delicacies, music, Dead Sea products, and a chance to learn about free trips to Israel. The Marketplace was held in a heated outdoor tent in a very well trafficked part of campus, inviting students passing by to literally stumble upon the program. As such, it represents JOI’s Public Space Judaism methodology applied to the college campus.
In addition to bringing Judaism to students “where they are” physically, this program took place as part of a university-wide international week, thus bringing Judaism to students “where they are” in terms of the university calendar. The event was so successful that Hillel professionals were complemented as having put on the “most impressive event” of the whole international week!
This public space program is the third to emerge at Eastern Michigan University this semester from the Bronfman Strategic Engagement Grant initiative which is managed by JOI. Their first program in September was “Rock the Block” rock climbing, an active and interactive introduction to Jewish opportunities on campus throughout the year. Their second was a harvest festival for the holiday of Sukkot, featuring edible, artistic, and altruistic activities.
We at JOI recommend that the public space events Hillels run can engage students on multiple levels. JOI’s Program officer Lily Matusiak and Senior Program officer Eva Stern visited EMU for the harvest festival, training EMU students in elements of outreach methodology including greeting, collecting names, and following up strategically and personally with newcomers to help them feel comfortable, welcomed, and included. We’re thrilled that EMU Hillel is beginning to see their efforts pay dividends.