Published February 29, 2020
Jewish Life on Campus: Finding a Home at the Bronfman Center
The BC: What's it all about?
For me, NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life is a home away from home and one of the most comforting spots on campus. They offer all of the usuals, like weekly Shabbat services and high holiday celebrations, and much more. I first got involved through the Jewish Learning Fellowship (more on that later). But over the past year, I’ve found myself in the Bronfman Center (or BC) more often than not. Bronfman has comfortable study spaces and balconies to hang out, and activities ranging from making essential oils for celebrating Hanukkah to building sukkahs for Sukkot. The BC has everything you could want from a campus Hillel and more.
First Up: Shabbat
Every Friday, the Bronfman Center puts on three different Shabbat services. The one I go to is Kesher, the Reform Jews at NYU. (Kesher means connection in Hebrew). Services are a mix of singing and praying, and it’s split between English and Hebrew, with transliterated Hebrew for those of us (me) who can’t read it. Additionally, Kesher services feature the Shaband (Shabbat band) – drums, a clarinet, and a guitar!
That service happens at the same time as Kehillah, which does a more conservative service. (Kehillah means community in Hebrew). It’s an egalitarian service with lots of singing, all in Hebrew. Both of those take place at the Bronfman Center at 7 pm every Friday, followed by a dinner (always kosher, with vegan and vegetarian options).
The third service is offered is with Shalhevet, the Orthodox group on campus. Their Shabbat times differ depending on when the sun sets, and it’s a traditional Orthodox service followed by dinner on Friday. Then, they offer services and Havdalah on Saturday.
The Bronfman Center is an excellent place to be around the High Holy Days. They offer services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and a delicious break fast). In addition, there are sukkahs for Sukkot, Seders for Passover, and celebrations for Purim. This past year, Hanukkah fell over NYU’s winter break, but the BC put on celebrations anyway!
So much else!
One important offering by Bronfman is the Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF). JLF gathers small groups of Jewish students to talk about things that matter. Bronfman offers a few different no credit, once a week courses (with free dinner!). Courses on deck for this semester include Life’s Big Questions, Sex Love and Romance, and Pursuing Justice. It’s a great way to get to know other Jewish students at NYU – I actually met one of my best friends in JLF!
Another important part of my journey with the BC was their Birthright trip. In June 2019, I took a trip to Israel with Bronfman staff and mostly NYU students. I was initially a little nervous, but I had excellent guides in the form of two Bronfman staff members and a really life-changing experience. Being able to go with other local students was great because I was able to stay in touch with them after our trip and see them at school and in the city.
There’s so much more!
Don’t just take my word for it – take some time to explore the Bronfman website and social media. I have been so lucky to be a part of this amazing community and want all of you to be able to join it too!