Returning to Campus – Spring 2022

We hope you all had a wonderful winter break, stayed healthy, and got a chance to relax.  Berkeley Hillel is never the same without the boisterous voices of students throughout the building and we can’t wait to welcome you back next week.

Keeping in mind the wellbeing and health of the students and staff, and following the University moving classes online for the first two weeks of this upcoming semester, we have made the difficult decision to amend our programs as well. We know that this comes as a disappointment, as it feels like we’ve been down this road before. But, we are confident that this will be a short-term solution. When it is safe for staff and students, we look forward to returning to our regular weekly programs and a building full of students’ energy.

The following changes have been made for the first week of classes (1/18-1/21):

  • There will be no BBQ on Wednesday, 1/19
  • Shabbat Candlelighting and a Kabbalat Shabbat service will take place outdoors in our courtyard
  • Shabbat Dinner will be offered as a to-go option only. Please sign up in advance to reserve a meal, no later than noon on Friday 1/21 sign up here
  • The Berkeley Hillel Courtyard will be open and available for students to study and take online classes, but the indoors will remain closed. Open Courtyard hours are Tuesday the 18th through Friday the 21st, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Any student that chooses to come for any outdoor program must remain masked at all times, and it is recommended to wear an N95 mask or comparable (per UC Berkeley masking guidelines).

As you all prepare to pack and return to campus, remember to pack your timbrels! In Parashat Beshalach, this week’s wisdom from the Torah, our ancestors finally dance their way into freedom as they cross through the parted sea. When they reach the other side, having left the Egyptians and generations of slavery behind, Miriam the prophetess “takes a timbrel in her hand, and all the women follow after her in dance with timbrels.” You might wonder why our foremothers would have instruments at the ready, being as they were in such a desperate rush to flee.

Our sages asked the same question.

One answer offered by our midrash (rabbinic folklore) is that these women were such tzaddikim, righteous ones, knowing for certain that God would perform miracles. They had enough faith, enough hope, and enough optimism to have instruments of celebration close at hand when they experienced that first sacred moment of freedom. As we face more uncertainty, I invite you to step into the optimism of our righteous ancestors. May we always, no matter what we face, have timbrels nearby; prepared to lead with joy and celebration when miracles inevitably occur before our eyes. We can’t wait to celebrate and sing with you again soon.

We know these times can be a struggle on our mental health.  If you are seeking support don’t hesitate to reach out to our mental health professional, Hagar, for confidential therapy,

Shabbat Shalom,
The Berkeley Hillel Staff