The University of Alabama at Birmingham now has a new Hillel chapter.
On Jan. 23, the Jewish Student Association at UAB received word that their application to Hillel International had been approved.
A year ago, as anti-Israel activity ramped up on campus, some Jewish students noted that there wasn’t an active Jewish student organization. The Birmingham Jewish Federation had done some outreach to the Jewish students there and at other campuses in the area, and there had been a handful of events.
An interest meeting was held on April 15 and the group was officially recognized as a student organization three weeks later.
Adrienne Milner, advisor to the Jewish student group, said having the group become a Hillel “will be a great step for students at UAB.”
They hope “to make UAB a friendlier campus to Jewish students and also hoping to provide a space where Jewish students can celebrate their culture. In addition, we are hoping to network with difference branches… and to educate the UAB community on what Judaism is and is not,” she said.
Ashley Goldsmith, a UAB student who has been leading the group, said “when current or perspective students look for colleges in Alabama that have a Jewish student organization they will find us along side Auburn and University of Alabama.”
UAB historically has had a very small Jewish student presence in the undergraduate ranks, though the numbers have been higher in graduate programs and among the faculty.
Goldsmith said an eventual goal is to have a Hillel building on or near campus and a kosher kitchen, “which is badly needed for campus since if you live on campus you have to get a dining plan that is worthless to a student who keeps kosher.”
Hillel has groups at Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Birmingham-Southern, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Millsaps, Louisiana State University, Tulane, University of New Orleans and Loyola.