UMass Amherst Jewish Affairs

Jewish Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Larry Goldbaum, director of the Office of Jewish Affairs, with Julian Bond

What does the Jewish Affairs program do?
The Jewish Affairs program provides a range of educational programs, individual and institutional advocacy, and bridge-building activities designed to foster a safe and welcoming campus environment for Jewish (and all other) students.
We strive to create a campus climate that is respectful of all people regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. Learn more by clicking on About Us. Or go to Programs to read about our many educational, cultural, and dialogue programs since the program was created in 1995. Or if you're interested in seeing what we've done on a particular topic, check out the
Subject Index on our Archive page.

What happened to the "Office of Jewish Affairs"?
Originally founded in 1995, in response to numerous conflicts and tensions affecting Jewish students, the Office of Jewish Affairs evolved into the newly-named Office of Religious and Spiritual Life in the summer of 2010. Why this change? On the one hand, changing circumstances and our success over a decade and a half in addressing those problems; and on the other, the increasing needs of other religious communities (in an era of tight budgets), convinced the administration that a broader mission was in order.

What kinds of religious and cultural programs are available to Jewish students?
A wide variety of social, cultural, religious, and educational programs are offered by the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, Hillel, Chabad, the Office of Jewish Affairs, various student groups, local synagogues, and Jewish organizations at the other Five Colleges. Links to all these organizations can be found at Resources.

How many Jewish students attend UMass Amherst?
It's impossible to know the precise number, since UMass is a public university and cannot require students to disclose their religious identity. However, various surveys suggest that approximately six to ten percent of undergraduates, or about 1,200-2,000 undergraduate students, are Jewish (religiously, culturally or by birth).

Can I get kosher food on campus?
Yes. Kosher meals are available at the Kosher DC, which in September 2007 was relocated to the Franklin Dining Commons in the Central Residential Area. The Kosher DC is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday, and for lunch on Friday and Sunday.
Shabbat dinner (Friday evening) is served at Hillel House (for students on the kosher meal plan or those who have preregistered). Students can sign up for the kosher meal plan or purchase individual meals at the Meal Plan Office in Franklin Commons.

Where can I eat during Passover?
During Pesach, the Kosher DC serves pesadek meals including Seders for students on the Kosher Meal Plan, as well as those who are not on that plan (by advance reservation and pre-payment). For more information about these meals and the Seders hosted by UMass Hillel, click here. Students can also attend Seders at Chabad House.

What can I do if my professor schedules an exam on a religious holiday?
State law and University policy require that an accommodation be made for any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination or work requirement because of religious observance. The Office of Religious Affairs (413.545.9642) or the Ombuds Office can help you in the event of a conflict. See University Policies.

Can I attend High Holiday services on campus or at a local synagogue?
Yes. Hillel and Chabad offer religious services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for all levels of religious observance including Reform, Conservative, egalitarian Orthodox, and traditional Orthodox. Some local synagogues also welcome students to attend their High Holiday services (arrangements may need to be made in advance).

Can UMass students spend a semester or a year studying in Israel?
Yes. Although UMass does not have any of its own programs in Israel, students can arrange to study at any university in Israel which offers a study abroad program. Contact the International Programs Office 413.545.2710 for more information.


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