Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many Jewish students are there on campus?
A: There are approximately 3,000 Jewish undergraduate students at U of I, approximately 10% of the student body. There are also approximately 500 Jewish graduate students.
Q:What kind of student programs and groups does Hillel sponsor at Illinois?
A: Illini Hillel has a Student Leadership Council with over 15 students, which plans programs, events and holiday celebrations that reach the entire U of I community. Students are encouraged to pursue their ideas, take the initiative, as well as get involved with existing projects and committees.
Q: How do students get involved with Hillel? Are there membership fees?
A: Any student on campus can participate in Hillel sponsored events. There are no membership fees and students are encouraged to plan and/or attend as little or as many programs and activities as they wish. If you have an idea for a program or would like to find out about leadership opportunities, please contact Jeremy Spiegel, Program Associate. Look around this website to see more information about what there is to get involved in.
Q: Is there kosher dining on campus?
A: Yes. For students living in the public dorms, there is a hot kosher meal program available at Allen Hall for dinner Monday through Thursday nights. Students or community members without meal plans may purchase a meal there as well. In addition, The Cohen Center, under the supervision of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CrC), offers a range of kosher food options, including hot kosher lunches for sale, Sunday bagel brunch, and, especially, delicious Friday night and Saturday afternoon meals for Shabbat. A limited selection of kosher cheese, meat and wine is also available in a variety of local supermarkets and liquor stores.
Q: What is Shabbat like at U of I Hillel?
A: Every week during the semester, between 80 to 170 or more students join together at the Cohen Center for Jewish life for student-led Reform, Conservative and Orthodox services, followed by a free, delicious dinner served from the Hillel kitchen. Often, the Jewish Life Committee plan special themed Shabbats, such as Faculty Shabbat, Homecoming Shabbat, Black & White Shabbat, Greek Shabbat and more. Students choose to attend both services and dinner, or just attend services or only join their friends for a Shabbat meal. Services start every week at 6 p.m., and dinner follows at 7.
Q: What are holiday observances and celebrations like at U of I Hillel?
A: U of Hillel runs a full program of services and meals for the High Holidays, Passover and more. During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox services are held for the U of I community, along with community meals. During Passover, Hillel hosts a variety of seders on the first and second nights, and students may even purchase "Seder Kits to Go" for use in their dorm, off-campus apartment, or fraternity/sorority. Other holidays are celebrated with programs, services, and dinners depending on where they fall during the academic calendar.
Q: Is there a rabbi on campus?
A: Yes. Since 2004, Hillel has been served by the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus through the Orthodox Union, which provides a rabbinic couple on campus. There is also a Reform rabbi in town at Sinai Temple, as well as rabbis at Chabad and JET on campus.
Q: What social justice opportunities does Hillel have?
A: Illini Hillel aims to be on the forefront of social justice programming, through ongoing volunteer opportunities, such as Challah for Hunger, as well as a robust Alternative Spring Break program. We are committed to conducting engaging programs that make social justice and the teaching of related Jewish texts and values a core component of Hillel's mission campus.
Q: How can I support Illini Hillel?
Our Hillel, like most, relies on the generous support of our donors to support our on-going programming and special initiatives. This year alone, we must raise $220,000 from contributions from individuals like you. Please click here to support our Hillel!
Q: How is Hillel connected to the University community?
A: Illini Hillel is a private not-for-profit organization and is the center for Jewish campus life at U of I. It is an integral part of the Hillels of Illinois, a partner in serving our community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation. It is an affiliate agency of Hillel International. UIUC Hillel is integrated into the University community through its dynamic programs, co-sponsored events, and the involvement of active students in many other University groups. The University is very supportive of Hillel and its role on campus and works with Hillel to provide a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish students, faculty, and families.