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Hillel International listed Lehigh University as one of the top 60 private colleges and universities in terms of Jewish population, as well as one of the top 60 schools chosen by Jewish graduating High School seniors in 2018.
Dear Lehigh Jewish students and all members of our extended community, I know this has been a difficult time for all of us. Shock, anger, sadness, and frustration are only some of the emotions we've all felt during this past week. One week ago we all said good-bye for Spring Break. Little did we know that this would be good-bye until August. For students in the Class of 2020 that may have been an even more final farewell. This is unfair! Plain and simple. And yet it is the reality that we are facing. In these difficult times it is important to express your feelings and thoughts to your family members and friends. Please also know that all of us in the Office of Jewish Student Life are here for you as well. We care about you. We support you. Most of all, we miss you! It still hasn't totally sunk in for us, and I imagine for many of you. It still feels like we're on Spring Break and, come Monday, students will start to trickle in. Next Shabbat was going to be "Breakfast for Dinner Shabbat" prepared by students and Rabbi Steve. Until a few days ago we were putting together the menu and the shopping list. So, the challah French toast, shakshouka and more will have to wait. The same is true for the rest of our activities and our communal Passover celebration. But we know we'll be back together in the fall to celebrate as a community. Please know that you are in our thoughts every day. After all, we work here because we love working with students. It's not the same without you! For those of you who may still be on campus or in local off-campus housing, our building will be closed effective immediately and until further notice. However, we are here for each and every member of the Lehigh University community. Please be in touch with any of us if you need anything. Please watch Instagram and Facebook for future messages, pics, and videos. In addition, we are excited to announce that we will soon be launching a new blog called "Lehigh Hillel: Healing & Health." This will be a digital forum for students to support and communicate with each other and with our staff. It will also be a way to create an online Jewish community to keep us connected no matter where we are. We will announce more details on Facebook, Instagram and in our e-mail newsletter, so if you're not following us already we're @lehighhillel on social media platforms. If you're receiving this letter, then you receive our newsletter. In closing, please stay healthy and stay safe. We hope the remainder of your semester goes well and that you have a spectacular summer! We look forward to seeing you in the fall. And for those who are graduating, please stay in touch with us and let us know what you're up to! Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Steve Nathan Chloe Goldstein Jane Hontz Director of Jewish Student Life Engagement and Office Coordinator and Associate Chaplain Program Associate jah714@lehigh.edu spn217@lehigh.edu cmg319@lehigh.edu (610) 758-4896 (610) 758-4875 (610) 759-4893 cell: (215) 514-3463 (PLEASE feel free to call or text if you need to talk!) P.S. To our parents, alumni, friends and supporters. Thanks for your support in everything you do. We couldn't do it without you! We're here for you as well if you need to talk!
Frequently Asked Questions

 

How many Jewish students are at Lehigh?

There are approximately 700-800 undergraduate students at Lehigh, comprising approximately 16-18 percent of the undergraduate population.

Is there a building for Jewish life at Lehigh? Where is the Jewish Student Center it located?

The Jewish Student Center is located at 216 Summit Street. The building is directly across Brodhead Street from the Alumni Memorial Building, which houses the Lehigh Admissions Office. The JSC has snacks, study spaces and a flat screen TV and is accessible between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to any Lehigh undergraduate by swiping their ID card. Graduate students may also request regular access by emailing Steve Nathan at spn217@lehigh.edu.

Are there hours for visitors and prospective students?

The Jewish Student Center has regular hours from 9:00 - 5:00 on weekdays (office is closed for lunch from 12-1 and is staffed by our office coordinator, Jane Hontz (jah714@lehigh.edu). The building is closed for the month of July and on Jewish holidays and University holidays. If you would like to pay us a visit, it is best to contact Jane at (610) 758-4896 or jah714@lehigh.edu to schedule one. That way you can be sure that someone will be here to show you around.

Does Lehigh have Shabbat services and meals?

The Jewish Student Center hosts Shabbat services and delicious dinner every Friday night. Services begin at 6:00 and dinner at 6:30.  Students are welcome to attend just one or both. Shabbat usualy draws between 30 to 50 students. For students seeking options for services Saturday morning, arrangements can be made to attend local synagogues.

Is there a kosher food option available? Is the Jewish Student Center kosher?

Lehigh does not have a formal kosher meal plan, however there are a wide variety of dairy and vegetarian options available in the dining halls for people who eat dairy/vegetarian outside of home.  While it is not directly linked to Lehigh’s meal plan, the Jewish Student Center kitchen is kosher and available to students for making their own kosher meals in consultation with the Director. There are also dinners prepared by our amazing chefs every Friday night (and leftovers usually available through the early days of the following week).  In the past, students could also request to live in the Kosher Living Live Lehigh community.  Currently, there was not enough interest expressed in order for this commuity to exist.  However, if there are enough students who observe kashrut in the future the community can be revived.

What are some of the components of Jewish life at Lehigh?

There are several Lehigh-recognized student-run Jewish groups at Lehigh: the Lehigh University Hillel Society, Challah for Hunger, Friends of IsraelChabad Club and Tamid: Israel Investment Club.  In addition, a wide variety of academic classes and Jewish programs are coordinated through the Berman Center for Jewish Students. Jewish students are also involved in LUMI, the LU Multifaith Initiative, as well as Alpha Epsilon Pi, which is a primarily Jewish fraternity. Rabbi Steve Nathan serves as the University’s Director of Jewish Student Life and Associate Chaplain. He can provide you with information about any of these organizations.

What services does Lehigh offer for major Jewish holidays?

During the High Holidays, Lehigh Hillel sponsors services and dinner on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, as well as services on the first day. On Yom Kippur we hold Kol Nidre evening services, Yom Kippur morning services, Neilah (closing) services and a post-Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast. Services are led by Rabbi Steve Nathan and any interested students. If students are interested in attending services on the second day or Rosh Hashanah arrangements can be made for transportation to the local Conservative synagogue in Bethlehem.

What can I do if I'm going to be absent from class or an activity for a religious holiday?

If you're planning on missing class for religious reasons, Lehigh's religious accommodation policy entitles you a religious accommodation, which requires students to negotiate with the instructor any make-up work.  The best thing to do is to let your professors know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE in the semester when you'll be out of class.  If the professor or graduate assistant does not accommodate a request, please contact Rabbi Nathan.

Here's a sample message you can cut and paste into an email:

Dear Professor____,

I am a student in your____ class, which meets on ___ at___ a.m./p.m.  For religious reasons, I will be absent from class on _______.  Please let me know what I should do to make up any work I will miss or if you have any questions.  

Thank you,

What are some of the other programs that Lehigh Hillel offers?

The best programs are the ones that students develop and lead themselves throughout the year.  Some examples of what we have done in the past are laser tag with our rival Lafayette Hillel, road trips to the Philadelphia Jewish Relief Agency to help pack food boxes for hungry families, Multi-faith Shabbat dinner discussion with the Muslim, Christian, Hindu and other religious groups on campus, trips to Jewish New York City and Philadelphia, events co-sponsored with other student groups, and conversations on contempory topics of interest. 

How many members does Hillel at Lehigh have? None! Everyone at Lehigh is welcome to participate in any of the programs we offer, regardless of their background.  We are open to everyone, and there is no need to "join."

Is there a Jewish studies program on campus?

The Berman Center for Jewish Studies is the academic center for Jewish life at Lehigh. It offers over 25 courses in Jewish studies (between five to seven courses each semester), including four semesters of Hebrew, as well as a Jewish studies minor. The Center also sponsors lectures, films, seminars, exhibits, and conferences open to the public.   Learn more about the Berman Center for Jewish Studies by clicking here

Who are the professional Jewish staff members on campus?

Rabbi Steve Nathan serves as Director of Jewish Student Life, and as the university’s Associate Chaplain.  Chloe Goldstein is the Engagement and Programming Associate for the Office of Jewish Student Life and Lehigh Hillel.  Jane Hontz is the full-time Office Coordinator and a number of involved and committed faculty members. In addition, students are hired to serve as Peer Engagement Interns whose job is to reach out to fellow Jewish students on campus.

What can I do if I have a question about Jewish Student Life?

Please contact the Jewish Student Center at inhil@lehigh.edu or 610-758-4896. Rabbi Steve Nathan can be reached at spn217@lehigh.edu or 610-758-4875.

Who/what funds Hillel/Jewish Life? How can I make a contribution?

Hillel and Jewish Life on campus are funded solely by personal donations, grants and endowments. No money for programming is provided by the University.  Any contribution you would like to make would be greatly appreciated.  You may go online to mylehigh.lehigh.edu/hillelcampaign or send a check made out to "Lehigh Hillel" to Lehigh Jewish Student Center, 216 Summit Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Thanks in advance for your help and support!

Lehigh Valley Synagogues

Orthodox

Congregation Sons of Israel 
2715 Tilghman Street, Allentown 
(610)-433-6089 
www.sonsofisrael.net 
Rabbi David Wilensky
Congregation Beth Avraham 
439 S. Nulton Avenue, Palmer Twp. 
(610)-905-2166 alt. (610)-438-2314 
Rabbi Isaac Yagod

Conservative

Congregation Brith Sholom 
1190 West Macada Road, Bethlehem 
(610)-866-8009 
www.brithsholom.net/home.html 
Rabbi Michael Singer
Temple Beth El 
1305 Springhouse Road, Allentown 
(610)-435-3521 
www.bethelallentown.org 
Rabbi Moshe Re'em
Bnai Abraham 
1545 Bushkill Street, Easton 
(610)-258-5343 
www.bnaiabraham.org 
Rabbi Daniel Stein

Reform

Temple Covenant of Peace 
1451 Northampton Street, Easton 
(610)-253-2031 
www.tcopeace.org 
Rabbi Selwyn Geller
Congregation Kenneth Israel 
2227 W. Chew Street, Allentown 
(610)-435-9074 
www.kiallentown.org 
Rabbi Seth Phillips

Reconstructionist

Congregation Am Haskalah 
currently meets in the building of Brith Sholom in Bethlehem (see above)
www.amhaskalah.org 
Rabbi Malka Bina Klein

Other communal Jewish agencies

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley 
www.jflv.org
Allentown Jewish Community Center 
www.allentownjcc.org