As the High Holy Days approach, finding a place to attend services becomes especially pressing for college students. Fortunately, the area’s many colleges and universities not only offer services to students (usually through Hillel) but to community members as well. It’s a win-win situation: the colleges incorporate students into the L.A. Jewish community and the Jewish community into the lives of local college students. Here’s a list of campus-based High Holy Days services – in the broadest sense of the word:
CSUN Hillel does not have a resident rabbi at this time. The group directs its students to synagogues in the area, which they may attend at no charge. According to program director Robyn Amster, Em Habanim, a Sephardic Orthodox congregation, uses part of the Hillel building. Students can attend those services as well. For more information, call (818) 886-5101.
Pierce and Valley Colleges
On Sept. 27 and 28, 9 a.m.-noon, Valley and Pierce will have a Hillel booth with apples and honey for students at Monarch Square and on the mall. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Oct. 1, there will be a tashlich picnic at Lake Balboa Park, where, as director Nomi Gordon puts it, “You can feed your sins to the ducks with bread crumbs.” For $25, students can purchase a Hillel activity card that includes a High Holy Days ticket for either UCLA or USC services. For more information, check out their Web page at HillelatPV.com, or call (818) 887-5901.
Loyola Marymount University
Despite the fact that Loyola Marymount College is a Jesuit university, they have a rabbi, but no Hillel building or program. They give out free tickets to the local conservative synagogue, B’nei Tikvah. The Marriot Hotel on campus caters to Jewish students with both vegetarian and kosher food. Orthodox students are referred the Chabad of the Marina, and reform students to Temple Akiba. However, the turnout rate is very low, and most Jewish students go home for the holidays to be with their families.
Santa Monica College
Though without a Hillel house, SMC Hillel refers students to the valley or UCLA for free admission with a current student ID. Hillel also works closely with Westside congregations,such as Kehillat Ma’arav, Beth Shir Sholom, University Synagogue, and Mishkon Tephilo, and the rabbis of these shuls extend a welcome to SMC students. Students must call in advance and make a reservation with the temple offices. For more information, call (310) 453-0752.
Occidental College lost funding from the Hillel council last year and does not have a Hillel building. It is offering free services at community synagogues and free transportation. There is no organized meal, but Jewish faculty members often host students for meals. For more information, call (323) 259-2959.
UCLA has arguably the largest High Holy Days turnout rate. For current UCLA students, services for the holidays are free but require a reservation. For non-students, the cost is $180 per person, or $300 per couple. UCLA Hillel holds both traditional services at Covel Commons and Reform services at the UCLA Hillel building, 900 Hilgard Ave. There is learning during the service that everybody gets involved with. Child care is provided at UCLA during the daytime services. Hillel also offers a break-the-fast after Yom Kippur, free for students. Call (310) 208-3081 for more information.
For Orthodox students, UCLA’s Westwood Village Synagogue welcomes all who wish to attend. “Our services are known to be wonderful, inspirational services. It’s really nice how people are genuinely excited to come to our services,” said program director Andrea Nussbaum. For more information call (310) 470-0080.
USC Hillel recommends that students buy a student activity card for $36, which gives them free entrance to all activities, including High Holy Days services, through-out the year. For community members, tickets to a High Holy Days services are $100. They are held in the USC Hillel building, 3300 S. Hoover St. According to USC Hillel program director Matt Davidson, a Chabad will soon be opening in the area for Orthodox students. As for food, Hillel offers a student lunch on the first day of Rosh Hashanah at 1 p.m., a pre-fast dinner on erev Yom Kippur at 4:45 p.m. and a break-the-fast. The meals cost $10. For more information and a brochure, call (213) 747-9135.