Dear Friends of UConn Hillel,

First and foremost, we hope that you and your families are safe and healthy during these very trying times. All of us at UConn Hillel are keeping our students, their families and supporters like you and your families in our thoughts, as we all do what is necessary to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you can imagine, it is a real loss for us not to be with our students in the manner we would choose. UConn Hillel prides itself on being close to our students, both in terms of proximity and our ability to insure they feel very much at home in our building and on campus. Our work in helping to educate, provide social engagement and to make sure our students feel value in being Jewish so that they will carry that commitment to our peoplehood into their adult lives is one we all take very seriously. We very much look forward to having them back on campus.

That being said, even though our students left campus just 10 days ago, from the beginning of their absence, we have fully adjusted to serving their needs while navigating these unchartered waters. We are making sure that we continue to reach out regularly to our students across the state and nation through virtual contact. We have had one-on-one virtual coffee dates, communal candle lighting for our first Shabbat apart and have a challah baking class scheduled for this week.

More importantly, our staff has developed a game plan for offering a wide variety of interactive educational and social opportunities for our UConn Hillel family to stay together during the rest of the semester. Our student Hillel Board and our Huskies for Israel Board are continuing to meet with us weekly so that we can make sure we continue to provide our students with the kind of first-rate programming and support they have come to expect from Hillel. We will be sending out a weekly newsletter to our students highlighting our menu of opportunities and alerting them to other programs offered by Hillel International and pro-Israel organizations during the week.

As Passover rapidly approaches, we are all preparing for what may be smaller or virtual seders this year. We will recall the plagues brought down upon the Egyptians when they were our taskmasters, even as we deal with the modern day plague of COVID-19.

The students we support know you are here for them. They tell us how abundantly grateful they are to have such an inviting and safe space to gather on campus. We must do all we can to serve their needs while they can’t be on campus and to ensure their transition back to campus life is welcoming. We will need your help to make sure that we are always here for them.

Yes, the landscape has changed and this is a stressful time in all our lives – like nothing we have ever seen before. As we continue to maintain social distancing, personal health and community concern, we will also navigate today’s challenges and prepare for what lies ahead as a community. Having the resources to do so effectively is critical.

So, let’s meet the challenge head on, with Passover around the corner we will end our personal seders with the declaration ‘ Le-shanah ha-ba-a b’Yerushalayim. ‘ For our UConn Hillel family, in this unprecedented moment, we must hold fast to our commitment to UConn’s Jewish students, and remain the kind of people who care and support our students. We welcome your continued support.

Thank you and may you have a Zissen Pesach in health and peace.

The staff and board of UConn Hillel.