SU Jewish Student Organization attracts students of all cultures


Joshua Rudley is president of the Jewish student organization, Hillel.

Many students tend to find their schedules to be overwhelming when trying to balance their course load with a club, sport or job thrown on top.

Then there is Shippensburg University junior Joshua Rudley. For Rudley, John L. Grove College of Business may seem to be a home away from home as he spends a wealth of time in the building completing his triple major in entrepreneurship, marketing and management.

Additionally, Rudley started E-Boss, an entrepreneurship club, as well as Toast Masters, which is a public speaking club. But to top it all off, Rudley is also SU’s president of Hillel, the Jewish student organization.

According to Rudley, Hillel can be found on most college campuses and is an organization that provides Jewish students with a group they can meet with and celebrate their religious holidays.

“Hillel is an organization for Jewish students, which allows them to uphold the Jewish religion while at college,” Rudley said.

Recently, Rudley hosted a Passover Inter-faith Seder in the spiritual center on campus the Monday following spring break.

Rudley explained that the tradition of the celebration is a large dinner with anyone who wants to attend as they gather to celebrate freedom.

According to Rudley, about 50 people were interested in the celebration including some local Shippensburg families and faculty members. Also, Rudley said Reisner Dining Hall donated food for the celebration.

Additionally, Rudley explained that it sometimes can be difficult for Jewish students to celebrate the Jewish holidays because they often conflict with class times or schedules.

“Holidays fall on different days every year because they are based on the Jewish calendar which is lunar,” Rudley said.

Because the dates of the Jewish holidays vary from year to year, Rudley explained that it is hit or miss as to whether or not a holiday will land on a weekend. Therefore, if a holiday happens to fall in the middle of the week rather than the weekend, then Hillel will make events after class for the Jewish students to celebrate the holidays because they are unable to celebrate with their families at home.

Although Rudley describes Hillel as a group that focuses on letting Jewish students celebrate their holidays and maintain their Jewish identity while at college, he also explains that Hillel is open to anyone who is interested and wishes to take part in the celebrations. In fact, Rudley said there are about 50 registered members in Hillel, and of those 50, at least 20 are not Jewish.

“They [the non-Jewish members] like to celebrate the holidays or are just friends with Jewish members,” Rudley said.

According to Rudley, SU’s Hillel has a connection with the Hillel group at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He explained that the Hillel group travels to Dickinson College on occasion to do events with them.

“They [Dickinson College] actually have a Hillel house and a kosher meal plan,” Rudley said.

Also, Rudley described his background by saying that he is originally from York, Pa, and was involved in BBYO, which he described as a Jewish youth group. Additionally, Rudley said he has a lot of family living in Israel, including his grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor. In fact, Rudley added that he even studied abroad in Israel and was able to Skype with the Hillel group on campus in order to show the group how holidays are celebrated in Israel.

However, Rudley explained that when he came to Shippensburg as a freshman that it was very difficult to find the Hillel group.

“A lot of Jewish students here tend to hide the fact they are Jewish,” Rudley said. “When you’re an extreme minority at a place it’s easier to blend in.”

While some Jewish students may try to blend in, the club provides a place for students of the faith and others to come together and feel welcome to celebrate and practice their religion.

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