From Left to Right: Douglas Kandl (moderator), Mikie Goldstein, Rabbi Judy Cohen-Rosenberg, and Michael E. Levine
The Hillel at Pace University in New York City dramatically expanded this year, from practically an inactive organization to one of the biggest student organizations on campus. Even in our first year back we have had events almost every two weeks and have become not only an organization for the Jewish population but also an organization that engages the wider student population. We had programming such as Pace Hillel Idol and our Purim station initiative that handed out 500 Mishloach Manot bags to the Pace community, and at both we collected donations for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Pace Hillel has had several meaningful Shabbat programs and we could not be any more excited for our last Shabbat of the semester next week featuring Israeli dancing and zemirot to engage a wider Jewish population. During one of our KOACH supported Shabbat dinners last semester Rabbi Richman of USCJ ran a discussion about homosexuality and Judaism, which sparked a huge interest in the students. Based upon the unanimous interest of the topic our board began planning a panel discussion for the spring semester.
At the end of March 2012 Pace Hillel and Stonewall presented Sex and Shalom: LGBT in the Jewish Culture and Religion Panel. The panel consisted of 3 leaders in the community: Mikie Goldstein a rabbinical student at Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Judy Cohen-Rosenberg the Rabbi at Community Reform Temple, and Professor Michael E. Levine a Past President of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah New York's LGLBTQ Synagogue. All of the panelists gave unique perspectives ranging from Mikie Goldstein coming from an Orthodox family in London and dealing with the movement’s lack of acceptance of his homosexuality to Professor Michael E. Levine being the President of one of the first gay synagogues to Rabbi Cohen-Rosenberg with years of experience dealing with LGBT in her synagogue and movement. Each also spoke about how they feel training has and needs to evolve, if there is a need for a gay shul, and how their community and movement’s beliefs and acceptance toward the LGBT has changed over time.
Pace Hillel has already started planning another panel for the fall which will discuss the role of women in Judaism.