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Jewish Students Affiliate with Hillels of the Florida Suncoast

Jewish Students
Students gather for a Hanukkah celebration hosted by the Jewish Student Association. Dr. Cat Eskin, faculty advisor, is third from right.

Dec 17, 2015

By FSC Staff

An historic and respected Jewish organization is making a return to the Florida Southern College campus, marking a new chapter in Jewish student life.

Members of the campus Jewish Student Association recently voted to affiliate with Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, a coalition of Hillel chapters at five other college campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

There have been Jewish student groups at Florida Southern for more than 60 years, including a Hillel chapter during the 1950s, according to Dr. Catherine Eskin, faculty advisor for Jewish students at FSC. The re-affiliation with Hillel promises to make FSC Jewish student groups stronger now and in the future, she said.

Hillel is an international organization for Jewish college students, with chapters at more than 550 campuses. It encourages students to embrace their Jewish heritage and traditions and sponsors educational and religious activities, including holiday observances and travel. It is named for Hillel the Great, a scholar and rabbi from the first century B.C.E.

The new affiliation was the result of an outreach effort by Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, who came to speak to the Jewish Student Association after its president, Michael Wellish, heard him give a presentation at Temple Emanuel, the Jewish synagogue in Lakeland.

The Jewish Student Association at FSC has tried to foster interfaith dialogue with non-Jewish students and create a welcome social environment for Jewish students, and the affiliation with Hillels of the Florida Suncoast will strengthen their bonds with other Jewish college students, said Dr. Eskin.

“Hillel is an amazing organization, and they have great resources to help our students. The college’s administration and the chaplain’s office have been very supportive of the students’ decision to affiliate with Hillel and have welcomed this new relationship,” she said.

Dr. Will Quilliam, associate professor of accounting, is co-advisor to the new Hillel chapter.