Hillel makes an added effort to accommodate the Dartmouth Community’s Jewish population during holidays and special religious observances. For the High Holidays, a variety of services with the UVJC are held in Rollins Chapel (Dartmouth’s non-denominational chapel), the Roth Center itself, and Occom Commons. Attendance at these Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services is strong, with more than 500 people in attendance.
Throughout the year, other holidays, including Purim, Hanukkah, Simchat Torah and Sukkot, are all celebrated at the Roth Center. For Hanukkah and Purim, Hillel throws a formal event, which this year took a charitable turn, raising 800 dollars for The Haven, a local shelter and food bank. For Simchat Torah, Hillel hosts a celebration with the UVJC’s Hebrew School, where a Torah scroll is completely unwound and the children are given tours of where passages they have studied can be found and (of course) dance! For Sukkot, Hillel teams up with the Dartmouth College Organic Farm to grow a local and sustainable meal, which students then help harvest and cook. The Farm also provides corn stalks for our Sukkah, and the community comes together to construct and decorate it.
Each year, Hillel sponsors a Pesach Seder on the first night. Over 250 people attend the main Seder in the Roth Center’s Sanctuary every year. Additional Seders, led by anyone who wants to lead their own, are held in various rooms of the building. Hillel provides each Seder with everything needed to properly celebrate the holiday.
Students coordinate and help lead the Seders on the first night: on occasion doing everything from compiling a Haggadah (as happened this past year) to writing and staging a creative retelling of the Passover story (the past two years saw “Exodusical the Musical” and an untitled project which modified songs from Les Mis to fit the spirit of the holiday). A fully kosher dinner is catered by the Pavilion, Dartmouth’s kosher dining facility, replete with (surprisingly) delicious deserts.
On the second night of Pesach, students host their own smaller Seders both at the Roth Center and around campus. Hillel typically supports these Seders with Haggadot, food, Seder plates, and any other logistical/religious guidance the students require. This past year, there were five second-night Seders and even one on the fifth night, all supported in some way by Hillel.
The Roth Center is kept strictly kosher for Passover. Furthermore, students can eat kosher for Passover meals at the Pavilion for the entire duration of the holiday.