On the weekend of Nov. 3, fifty Jewish students from seven schools came together at Camp Solomon Schechter for the annual Pacific Northwest Hillel Undergraduate Retreat.
This year, for the first time, a grant of $900 was given to support this retreat by International Hillelâ€™s Soref Initiative for emerging campuses. The grant helped offset the costs of transportation, so students from schools across Washington and Oregon could enjoy a weekend of praying, singing, dancing and discussion.
The Soref Initiative provides resources and funding to campuses that do not have an established Hillel foundation, so these students may celebrate Jewish life on campus. According to the Hillel Web site, the Soref Initiative provides guidance, financial assistance, online resources and a communication network for Jewish students at these campuses. This initiative gave a grant of $900 for the Pacific Northwest Hillel Undergraduate Retreat. The grant helped students from Oregon State University, Portland State University, Washington State University and Cornish College to attend the retreat by compensating their transportation fees and subsidizing program costs. At the retreat, students from these campuses could receive information explaining how to start a Hillel and find more Jewish students on their campuses.
Altogether, there were seven schools at the Pacific Northwest Hillel Undergraduate Retreat: Cornish College, Central Washington University, Oregon State University, Portland State University, University of Oregon, University of Washington and Washington State University. This retreat allowed these students to meet and spend Shabbat together in a pluralistic environment that excluded the stresses of school and everyday life.
Some of the highlights from the weekend included a keynote address from AIPAC Director Gil Elan and the Camp Schechter Accords, which helped students to understand the complexity of the Middle East peace process. There were also workshops on topics such as how to start a Hillel, Arab-Jewish coexistence, what makes a Jew a Jew and ask the rabbi.