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Jewish groups reach milestones

Two Jewish groups with campus connections are marking major milestones this fall. The Chabad House Jewish Student Center will celebrate the completion of a new Torah scroll this weekend. Mean-while, Hillel at Binghamton has received accreditation from the board of directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

Chabad plans music, dancing, a parade and festive meals on Sunday, Nov. 6, to mark the completion of the donated Torah scroll, a holy object that contains the five Books of Moses.

Most of this Torah was written by a scribe in Jerusalem in a highly ritualized process that generally takes almost a year. Activities will begin at 2 p.m. as people watch a scribe write the final passages on traditional parchment in Old Union Hall.

A brunch will follow, and then the Torah will be paraded to the Chabad House at 420 Murray Hill Road in Vestal. There, the scroll will be welcomed with ceremonial dancing and liturgical singing. A dinner will conclude the festivities.

Participants may arrange to have a letter inscribed in this scroll in their honor. “Taking part in this kind of ceremony is considered a once-in-a-lifetime event and opportunity,” said Rabbi Aaron Slonim, director of Chabad. “To be present at the com-pletion of a new Torah scroll is to witness a birth — the Torah is the binding force, the soul of the Jewish people.”

To make a reservation to participate or for more information, call Chabad at 797-0015.

Hillel, too, has much to be proud of. It’s one of just 72 foundations across the United States and Canada that have been accredited.

To receive this distinction, Hillel foundations must demonstrate compliance with standards of excellence in governance, student programs, communications, resources and management systems. The Hillel accreditation team also evaluates the foundation’s relationship with its university and local Jewish community.

“We salute the students, professionals and lay leaders of Hillel at Binghamton for their ceaseless efforts in creating a welcoming environment for Jewish students on their campus,” Hillel President Avraham Infeld said. “Their commitment to excellence shines through every-thing that they do.”

Gary Coleman, executive director of Hillel at Bing-hamton, said one result of the year-long review process is that the group has beefed up its staff, including people who will focus on programming. He said the group has about 400 students who regularly attend its activities; another 1,200 will participate in a Hillel event over the course of a given semester.

“Our goal,” Coleman said, “is to constantly improve the programming we do and to become a much more integral part of the whole campus culture.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08