Jewish life at Auburn is off to a great start for the new year.
Auburn is starting to attract interest and Jewish students from around the country, reflecting a recent trend outlined in a Forward magazine article “Why Jewish Students are Finding a Home in the Deep South.” The article mentions that Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi returned to Auburn’s campus in 2015.
Auburn’s Jewish student population has grown over the last few years and Hillel (the Jewish student organization) has become very active. It’s President, Lily Buder, a San Francisco native, reflects this trend. She said, “For me, auburn has become a second home and a huge part of that has been the community I’ve found through Hillel. Auburn challenges students to be the best they can be …. Although we don’t have the largest Jewish community, our numbers are growing and I feel that that the smaller size has allowed for some really meaningful friendships to be made. I love Auburn, I love being Jewish, and I’m proud to be in a place where my Jewish identity is celebrated and accepted.”
Auburn Hillel greeted new and returning Jewish students with an opening bagel brunch on August 27th and a joint Hillel/AEPi Shabbat dinner on August 25th at Congregation Beth Shalom, Auburn’s local synagogue. Auburn has approximately 125 Jewish students and many of them attended the opening events. For the coming year, Hillel has planned an array of activities including an after Yom Kippur break-fast, Shabbat dinners, Havdalahs (a brief service signifying the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of the new week) and weekly get togethers.
The Birmingham Jewish Federation and The Birmingham Jewish Foundation have provided support for Jewish life at campuses around the state, including Auburn. The Foundation has a need-based scholarship fund for incoming Auburn Jewish Freshmen at Auburn and Washington DC area Auburn alum, Martin Freeman, established a fund several years ago to underwrite activities at Auburn Hillel.