Your latest update on Jewish student life at Penn State!

Student Newsletter - Friday, February 3

Raise your hand if this is you on Superbowl Sunday?
#TBT on a Friday...this is why we #GoWithHillel

"Staffing Birthright is one of my favorite aspects of my job. There is something so special about traveling to Israel, getting to know students better and watching them form meaningful bonds with old friends and new friends. Since Birthright, I have had multiple reunions. It's great that not only were we able to bond on the trip, but have an ongoing one back on campus." - Leah Chakoff, Director of Leadership Initiatives

Now it's your turn. Pre-register for your Birthright trip at and choose the PENN STATE bus!

A little bit of Torah to bring in Shabbat! - From your Hillel Staff
D’var Torah – literally a “word of Torah,” a lesson or sermon interpreting a text, which can be delivered by anyone reflects a fundamental Jewish belief in the infinite interpretive possibilities of Torah. This concept is best articulated in Mishnah Avot 5:22, “Turn it and turn it; for everything is in it,” and in the rabbinic assertion that each person who stood at Sinai saw a different face of Torah (

Dvar by Emma Kaplan, Springboard Fellow

This week, in Parshat Bo, we read through the end of the story of our exodus from Egypt. In particular, the parsha takes us through the last three plagues that were cast upon the Jews before their exodus- locusts, darkness and death of the firstborn son. Each of these plagues had its negative implications and every year during Passover we retell the story and remember the hard times that our ancestors faced during this time. Some of the plagues that we discuss feel vague and hard to understand-  what would it have felt like to walk outside and see the entire surface of the ground covered in locusts? It’s almost impossible to imagine that sensation. Darkness, however, is one plague I believe we all can relate to.

In Judaism we emphasize the importance of memory but the torah never explicitly states how it is we are supposed to remember. During the Yom Kippur we reflect on our sins by casting away bread into running water. On Passover we come together with family and friends to remember the pain of the plagues and the exodus from Egypt. Parshat Bo says, “this day shall be to you one of remembrance." (Exodus 12:14)

Today our country is facing a very dark time. We are living during a time of great uncertainty and many are forced to be living in fear. When we retell this story of the darkness we are living through, how we chose to remember it will be up to us. We may choose to focus on the violence, the hate and the fear. Or we can opt to remember the pockets of light that brought us hope- people coming together across the globe to stand up for what they believe in, community members standing up against acts of hate, and neighbors going out of their way literally to open up their homes and welcome in the stranger.

TEDxPSU to Hold Main Conference: Breach

State College, PA –Sunday, February 12th, 2017 from 10am- 4pm, Penn State University will host its 7th annual TEDxPSU event, a full-day conference for students, faculty, and the community. This year the main conference will focus on the theme “Breach” which encompasses innovative ideas and breaking past the status quo. Some thought-provoking topics that will be covered include schizophrenia, police brutality, and a talk on the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.  
Free and open to the public, those interested can register at Doors open at 9:30am. If media publications are interested in covering the conference we are able to provide details.
Noted speakers scheduled to appear:
  • Tim Simpson – Penn State Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor
  • Claudia Williams – Chief Frientorship Officer, founded The Human Zone
  • Glenn R. Ruse Jr. – Classicist and Roman Historian
  • Cecilia McGough – Schreyer Honors College student pursuing astronomy and astrophysics
  • Jonathan Marks – Trained lawyer and current director of the Bioethics Program at Penn State
  • Bella Glanville – International model, coach, and high school senior
  • Bruno Descaves – Master Puppeteer from Brazil
  • Matthew Stumpf – Unique background in psychology, communications, leadership, behavioral health, and public speaking
  • Peter Buckland – Academic Programs Fellow at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute
  • Theresa Vescio – Professor of Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies
  • Brian Davis – Penn State student who crafted the publication “The Penn State Treasure”
About TEDxPSU TEDxPSU is Penn State’s locally organized, student-run, yearly TEDx conference. Over the past seven years, we have provided students, faculty, staff, and State College community members with a memorable, interactive full-day TEDx conference full of enlightening talks on a wide breadth of topics. Our goal as an organization is two-fold. First, we aim to showcase the best research, ideas, and values that Penn State students, faculty, and alumni have to offer our community and beyond. Secondly, we bring in speakers from outside of our community to provide new perspectives on the world at large. Our reach extends to Penn State, State College, our Commonwealth campuses, and across the United States and the globe. We pledge to continuously provide novel “ideas worth spreading” to all of these communities.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a “TED like” experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalk videos and live speakers come together to spark deep discussion and connection in a group setting. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

Contact: Megan Berryman at

February 5th
Link and Yalla Sports Superbowl Party
5:00pm - 9:00pm
The Legend - 246 Highland Ave, State College, PA

February 6th
Of Many Film Screening and Interfaith Panel
7:00am - 8:00pm
Foster Auditorium

February 6th
Rebuild – U Meeting
4:00pm - 4:30pm
HUB 009
February 6th
Student Executive Board Meeting
5:30pm - 7:30pm
Nurse Sciences Building
February 10th
6:30pm - 9:00pm
Pasquerilla Spiritual Center
Challah For Hunger brings people together to bake and sell challah in effort to raise funds and awareness for social justice causes. Read more here

Link and Yalla Sports are teaming up for an open Superbowl Pool. Each square is $2 and the first place winner will get a gift card, and the remaining money will be donated to THON!

1) Click on link
2) Select "pick a Superbowl square" 
3) Our "initial password" is PSU
4) Venmo Jen Berman at Jennifer-Berman-5

Join here:

Looking for a job, fellowship, internship? 
Check out our job board for open positions! 

Springboard Fellowship with Hillel International: Recent grads or graduating seniors -- reimagine and redesign the Jewish experience on campus during this two-year paid fellowship. Gain invaluable skills in design thinking, cultivate creativity, and galvanize the Jewish student community. Apply today! Questions? Ask our very own Springboard Fellow, Emma Kaplan or apply here! 

The HUC-JIR and URJ are hosting a Social Justice Shabbaton in partnership with several Hillels in the area. The event will bring together Reform and progressive Jewish students to explore social justice and discover new ways for Jewish students to take action on campus. Throughout the event, we’ll spend time in Shabbat services and dinner, meeting students from other campuses, and recommitting ourselves to social justice on campus.  

The event is $50 per student and housing is student-hosted by students in New York City. If you have some students who are interested, they can register here!

Penn State Hillel is happy to pay registration for this event through JewPAC funding. Apply HERE.
We know what you're thinking -- how can YOU get on one of our incredible trips? Well guess what... it's easy! Applications for summer Birthright trips open on February 6. For more information, you can visit our website or email Lauren Levinson!

Have you already been on Birthright but want to go back to Israel? No problem! Onward Israel applications are also open! 

About Onward Israel
When you grow, so do your opportunities. Global experience gives you that extra competitive edge.

Our programs take you Onward - personally and professionally - and allow you an authentic taste of modern day Israel while gaining experience and knowledge through an internship opportunity.
Onward Israel is designed with the beginning in mind: The beginning of your success story.
Start up your future in Israel. Yalla! Click here to learn more about Onward Israel.
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Penn State Hillel
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