Brandeis University Admissions
A Day in the Life: Leading the Way at Brandeis Hillel
By Eitan M. ’24
My name is Eitan Marks, I am a Junior from Englewood, New Jersey, majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic studies, with a focus in Hebrew language and a minor in legal studies.
I came to Brandeis during fall 2020, in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes were virtual, dining halls were closed, and making new friends was next to impossible. All that changed when I got involved in the Jewish community through Hillel. I made friendships that will last me a lifetime, learned skills and values that guide and drive my day-to-day life, and was given the opportunity to lead. This community is my home, and I am so proud of it.
I came to Brandeis because the students are kind, the professors are incredibly dedicated to the success of their students, and the Jewish community here is so vibrant and diverse.
Today, I’ll take you through a typical day in my life as a Brandeis student!
Morning prayer with the Brandeis Orthodox Minyan
Good morning! I am starting out my day at the Shacharit service with the Brandeis Orthodox Minyan in the Berlin Chapel. The leather straps and boxes that I’m wearing are called Tefillin. Today is Monday, and that means we read part of the weekly Torah portion.
Kosher Breakfast in Sherman
Sherman Dining Hall serves kosher meals three times a day. This morning, my friends and I enjoyed egg and cheese bagel sandwiches, prepared by our favorite member of the Sherman staff, Nick. Breakfast after Minyan is a great way to start the day, and to meet new people.
Walk up the hill!
Most of my mornings start with a trek up the hill. On the way I pass the famous Louis Brandeis statue, the science center, and the library. Our campus has evolved and changed a lot over the 75 years that Brandeis has called it home. I am currently working on an independent study with Professor Jonathan Sarna about the history of the campus.
Weekly Meeting with Rabbi Seth Winberg
Now it's time for my weekly meeting with the university chaplain and executive director of Hillel, Rabbi Seth Winberg. Rabbi Winberg and I work on making sure that the greater Jewish community at Brandeis is thriving and growing. Whether that be discussing how we are going to welcome new first year students next fall or creating new connections for current students, it is always an engaging and educational experience.
Board of Trustees Zoom
Today, in my capacity as Student President of Hillel, I got to be a part of a conversation between a group of student leaders and members of the university board of trustees, focusing on student life and the issues that students face on campus. We discussed housing, community relations, and what brought us to Brandeis. For me, it was how nice people are here, how welcoming the community is, and how Brandeis uniquely makes it possible for Jewish students to get a well-rounded education and feel safe on a college campus, something that is becoming increasingly rare in the U.S.
Lunch at Louis Deli!
For lunch I headed down to Louis Deli in the Usdan Student Center. Louis Deli offers a range of made-to-order sandwiches, soups, and salads typical to what you’d find at your local deli. Louis is the other Kosher dining location on campus, due to its proximity to my classes it is my go-to lunch spot almost every day. Today, I enjoyed a delicious corned beef sandwich with sauerkraut, pickles, and coleslaw. Yum!
Hebrew with Sara Hascal
Class time! For my first class of the day, I’m going to Hebrew Through Israeli Cinema, where we learn about all different types of Israeli cinema and film – short films, films about the army, films about the Holocaust. We practice our speech and writing skills by discussing and reflecting on what we watched. One of the cool things about my class is that we are part of a program with Israeli students where we are digital “pen-pals”, exchanging culture, ideas, and making new friends.
Professor Sara Hascal teaches the course. She is also the chair of the Hebrew language program and my faculty advisor. The Near Eastern and Judaic Studies major offers five tracks, areas of focus in your studies to choose from when you declare the major. One of my favorite things about being a student at Brandeis is how devoted and dedicated the faculty is to the growth and development of their students.
Hebrew with Rima Farah
My second class of the day is Arab-Speaking Minorities in Israel with Rima Farah. Today, we discussed the Circassian community in Israel. They are an ethnic group originating in the Caucuses who were expelled by the Russian empire, and now live in other countries in the Middle East and Europe. The Circassians maintain their ethnic traditions through their dress, language, and dance.
Meeting with Riley
Riley Miner ’25 is the vice president of Hillel. We discussed some ongoing projects, such as our upcoming student leader training, made sure we were up to speed on what board members were working on, and met with Allyson, one of our Hillel staff, about an upcoming inclusion initiative to encourage attendance at weekly Shabbat dinners, for Jewish and non-Jewish students alike.
Hillel Board Meeting
The Hillel student board is composed of Jews from many different backgrounds. Each member holds a different portfolio of responsibilities, and we represent the greater Jewish community. Every week we meet to discuss the latest happenings in our community, and plan programming to bring students at Brandeis together.
I went with my girlfriend Samantha Brody ’24 (who is the former Hillel President), and our friends Neima Fax ’25 and Shoshana Solomon ’24 to J.P. Licks in Newton for some ice cream. While the weather this time of year may be frigid, it's nice to get off campus and explore what the local communities in Newton and Waltham have to offer.