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NC Hillel Coronavirus Update

Mar 12, 2020

Updated March 16, 2020

One of the core teachings of the recent holiday of Purim is that we are not always in control. Like many of you, we’ve personally felt the impact of COVID-19 and understand the feelings of uncertainty that you may be experiencing. 

During this challenging time of transition, we want to assure you that North Carolina Hillel is a constant. We are here for our students.  

While the typical Jewish communal response to challenge and uncertainty is to gather people together over food, in this case, the value of pikuach nefesh (saving a life) must take precedence. North Carolina Hillel is working to balance public health needs with our commitment to supporting Jewish students as they navigate life’s challenges. Students need Hillel now more than ever, as they negotiate tough times, seek community, and tackle loneliness and anxiety. Thankfully, we are ready to serve our students in new, creative ways.

UNC System campuses announced last week that they are transitioning to online classes indefinitely, effective this week for some campuses and next week for others. The timing is largely dependent on Spring Break:

  • Appalachian State, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill, which were already on break, have extended their breaks for a week, resuming with online courses on Monday, March 23. 

  • UNC Charlotte and UNC Greensboro both had their breaks the week of March 2 and were back on campus last week; UNCC is moving to online courses today, while UNCG is discontinuing courses for a week and moving to online courses on March 23.

Links to campus-specific updates, which include additional restrictions, are below.

When classes go virtual, so does Hillel. We are seeking and implementing exciting ways for students to connect with each other, get support from our staff, and bring joy and comfort to each other’s lives. For example, we are convening Jewish Learning Fellowship cohorts through video conferencing, inviting students to go on a walk with a staff member over the phone, and setting up a daily online schmooze. We are also organizing a meaningful virtual Passover seder for all our students (more info to come!).

Recognizing that this is a complex and dynamic situation that is shifting constantly (sometimes hour to hour), our current plan is as follows:

  • For the safety of students and staff, our Hillels are closed indefinitely with staff working remotely.

  • All NC Hillel campus-based programs are cancelled until further notice.

  • Jewish Learning Fellowship cohorts will continue to meet via Zoom (more information to follow).

  • Sadly, our May Birthright trip has been cancelled by Birthright Israel. We are exploring our options at this time. 

  • All students who have enrolled in our Onward Israel internship program are able to get a full refund if they cancel at this time. Students who wish to do so should email their contact at Bina or reach out to Sarah Cohn with any questions. 

Over the coming days, Hillel staff will reach out individually to every student for whom we have contact information. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do to support you.

If you have suggestions of ways to bring people together and build community virtually, please let us know. 

This situation is unprecedented in modern history, but Jewish tradition is rich with stories of adapting and evolving to changing situations. We have demonstrated resilience and overcome adversity for nearly 4,000 years. When our students return, Hillel needs to be stronger than ever to help them live their Jewish values and make their own Jewish memories. 

We’re grateful for your support - we’re only able to care for our students because of you.

Coronavirus updates from specific campuses:

Appalachian State

NC State

UNC Chapel Hill

UNC Charlotte

UNC Greensboro

Please don't hesitate to be in touch with any questions.

Wishing you, your families, and your communities good health,

Ari Gauss, Executive Director

Michelle Brownstein Horowitz, Campus Director - UNC Chapel Hill

Sarah Cohn, Campus Director - NC State
  - NC State and UNC Wilmington

Jamie Krusch, Director of Student Life and Community Engagement - Charlotte
  - UNC Charlotte and East Carolina University

Vicki Cathcart, Director of Student Life - Greensboro
  - UNC Greensboro, Guilford College, and UNC Asheville

Lauren Fine, Interim Advisor, Appalachian State

North Carolina Hillel Foundation
210 West Cameron Avenue
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 942-4057

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