Situated in Western Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts at Amherst sits on nearly 1,450-acres. The campus provides a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers. UMass enrolls 23,300 undergraduate students.
There are 1,500-2,500 Jewish students on campus, including 25-75 students who attended Modern or Centrist Orthodox day schools. Most Orthodox students live near the Franklin Dining Commons, the kosher dining hall, in either the Central Resident area, the Orchard Hill Residential area, or the Jewish Living and Learning Community on the third floor of the Hillel House. UMass is very accommodating to Orthodox students: they understand when students miss class because of the Chagim and will work with students to pair Orthodox students as roommates when if asked.
OU-JLIC and Kehillat Hillel Ha’azinu (KHH), the Orthodox student group at UMASS, work together to provide creative, engaging programming for all Jewish students on campus. OU-JLIC coordinate social programs such as the Women’s Rosh Chodesh Breakfasts and Melavah Malkahs. The OU-JLIC Torah Educators learn one-on-one with students and teach Torah classes including Talmud chevrutah learning and shiur; Hebrew and Aramaic Skills Workshops; Women in the Bible; a Kashrut Fellowship; and the Jewish Learning Fellowship which is a 10 week course with a stipend. For students who are interested in maintaining the kosher kitchen on campus, there is a Mashgiach Supervision Training. Social events have included Build-Your-Own-Shtender, Newton Shabbaton, Pizza Making, and Jewpardy. OU-JLIC also has many holiday related events: davening and meals for all holidays when school is in session; a Sukkah Hop; Simchat Torah Celebration; Chanukah Lighting; Tu B’Shvat Seder; Megillah Reading and seudah; a Pesach Seder; and a Lag B’Omer Bonfire and Concert.
Orthodox Students experience Shabbat and Chagim at UMASS Amherst as active members of a warm, tight-knit community. Each Shabbat students daven together and enjoy their Shabbat meals as a cohesive group. On Friday nights, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform students sing Yedid Nefesh together before separating to their respective services. The Friday night OU-JLIC minyan has 20-30 students who each enjoy the singing and energy of the beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat services. Following services, Hillel provides a free catered dinner attended by 90-110 students. A small group of students eat at the OU-JLIC educators home each week. There is an OU-JLIC Shabbat Mevarchim Farbrengen once a month. Each week, 15-25 students daven at the Shabbat morning OU-JLIC minyan that is followed by a parshah shiur and kiddush with cholent. After kiddush, there is lunch with 25-35 students at Hillel; once a month the OU-JLIC educators invite students to their home for Shabbat lunch. On long Shabbat afternoons students often venture into the beautiful Amherst area with group walks and a Shiur in the Field. Mincha has 15-25 students, followed by seudah shelishit at the OU-JLIC educators’ home, Maariv, and havdala. At UMass, visiting scholars frequently join and enhance the Shabbat experience with dynamic Torah conversations.
Meet The Educators