Being Jewish at High Point University
Nearly 150 students at High Point University identify as Jewish, a number that grows each year. Jewish students at High Point come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some come from families that have made Judaism an integral part of their lives, while others may have little to no tradition of practicing Judaism. We have students who come from families with two Jewish parents and others from families with one Jewish parent. We even have some non-Jewish students who have become interested in Jewish culture, history and theology. All students are welcome at our events, and a number of Jewish faculty members are also active participants in the community.
Hillel, formerly the Association of Jewish Students (AJS), is a student organization dedicated to providing opportunities for students to build a Jewish Life at High Point University. Students participate in social and religious activities with other Jewish students on campus and through the region. They celebrate Shabbat and major holidays, assist in regional Jewish service projects and have the opportunity to participate in regional, national and international Hillel events, including Birthright trips to Israel. Hillel welcomes students from all movements of Judaism and people from other faiths who are interested in learning about Judaism.
Jewish students have celebrated Hanukkah together, and during the High Holidays students are provided transportation to services. Students have traveled to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro for a regional Shabbat dinner and organized a Hanukkah party, and spring events will include a celebration of Purim and a Passover seder.
Last year the university hosted an event featuring Israeli and Palestinian students from the OneVoice Movement, which seeks to promote a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We are also laying the foundations for building a greater presence in the High Point, Piedmont Triad, and North Carolina Jewish communities. On a more local level, with the growth of our population we hope to establish a more active tradition of tikkunolam (‘repairing the world’) by involving students in the wide variety of Jewish social action activities available through the university, local synagogues, and Jewish organizations throughout the Triad.
Finally, the university has recognized the growing demand for academic opportunities to explore Judaism. In addition to our extremely popular course on the History of the Middle East, taught by the chair of the history department Dr. Larry Simpson, this spring the Religion department is offering an Introduction to Judaism class taught by Rabbi Michael Gisser of the nationally renowned American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro. As the demand continues to grow, the university is exploring additional classes on the histories of European and American Jewry as well as a foreign language class in Hebrew.
What about the School’s United Methodist affiliation?
The United Methodist Church is committed to the flourishing of all faith traditions and freedom of religious expression. While High Point University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, that does not mean that everyone on campus is Methodist (or even Christian); nor does that affiliation dictate the way faculty teach their courses. The university is committed to religious diversity and and a spirit of openess, and the university chaplain is among the biggest supporters of the Jewish community. Jewish students feel comfortable and well supported in this community. If you have any questions, please contact the advisor of the Jewish Students’ Association, Dr. Paul Ringel who will be happy to put you directly in touch with Jewish undergraduates.
Is there kosher food on campus?
While no kosher dining facility formally exists at High point, the university offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan dining options. During Passover, the main dining halls offer matzo and other kosher for Passover foods.