Hurricane Harvey and Brandeis First Friday

Aug. 30, 2017

Dear Brandeis Family,

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and its devastating aftermath. We are especially concerned for our Brandeis students, faculty, and staff from the areas most affected, and for those who have loved ones in the region.

Brandeis’ Department of Community Service is facilitating efforts to provide support for those affected, and are coordinating with the Department of Spiritual and Religious Life/multi-faith chaplaincy, the Intercultural Center, Hillel, the Student Union, and other departments. You can find a list of ways you can join these efforts here, and if your department or organization has other ways to contribute please reach out to the Community Service team

We would especially like to invite undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and your family members to participate in this year’s Orientation Volunteerfest project, making fleece blankets.  The project is especially relevant as blankets are among the most-requested items for the area – so please join us this Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Fellows Garden.

We will strive to have our first shipment out by this Friday evening. Fridays are special at Brandeis, particularly the first Friday of each academic year. On that evening we hold a special celebration of our distinctive pluralistic, diverse, open multi-faith community with an event rooted in the traditions of our Jewish founders. It is inspired by the Jewish sabbath, the Shabbat, which is observed from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night. Those Friday night observances often lead into an, “Oneg” – a time for reflection, discussion, and connection with your community…and usually having some great desserts.

Building on that custom, students and staff members collaborate to bring us all together, regardless of our faith, observance, or practice.  After all of the hatred that has been on display elsewhere, it is more important than ever that we come together to reclaim our commitment to our values of both inclusion and dialogue.

This program, “In One Place,” is the companion to “This is Our House,” and will take place this Friday, September 1st, from 9:15 to 10:30 p.m. in Massell Quad around the pond. The event is a non-denominational campus-wide celebration of our diverse culture, and will not include any religious ceremony. Members of our Chaplaincy and many different faith-based and cultural student organizations will be welcoming everyone and talking about what makes our campus so special.

While the event will not attempt to recreate any of the religious aspects of Shabbat, the gathering provides an excellent foundation to spark discussion surrounding the many traditions represented at Brandeis.  Whatever your beliefs, Brandeis is your home; this events celebrates your right to your own views and the importance of building greater understanding across our diverse cultures and life experiences.  We will also observe a moment of silence at 10:00 p.m. in support of the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and in remembrance of all who lost their lives to violence and hate over the past year.

"In One Place" is not only the title, but a three-word description speaking to the diversity of beautiful and inclusive spirituality at Brandeis. Regardless of how you spend your first Friday of our new academic year, welcome home to Brandeis.


Jamele Adams, Dean of Students
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Reverend Matthew Carriker, Protestant Chaplain
Allison Cornelisse, Pastoral Associate for Catholic and Spiritual Life
Jacob Edelman, President, Student Union
Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment
Madeleine Lopez, Director, Intercultural Center
Lisa Lynch, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Lucas Malo, Director for Community Service
Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, Senior Associate Director for PreCollege Programs and Associate Jewish Chaplain
Shrestha Singh, Hindu Adviser
Sheryl Sousa, Vice President for Student Affairs
Rabbi Liza Stern, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life and Jewish Chaplain
Stewart Uretsky, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration
Rabbi Seth Winberg, Executive Director of Hillel and Senior Jewish Chaplain