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Aish comes to Buffalo

New Jewish organization aims to teach students about the religion

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Jenna Harsanyi has always felt spiritual and cultural connections with her religion: Judaism.

Harsanyi, a senior communication major, found social outlets to interact with other Jewish students in high school, but wasn’t sure where to go once she arrived at UB.

So she introduced Aish New York to Buffalo.

Harsanyi is now the recruitment manager for Aish Buffalo, a Jewish organization that is recognized among eight college campuses. This semester, the organization has been brought to UB’s campus as a way for Jewish students to connect to their heritage away from home in an educational way. Other outlets on campus for Jewish students include the Hillel, which hosts events around Buffalo and the Chabad House of Buffalo, which offers students a Jewish environment away from home.

“In high school I was very involved in BBYO [B’nai B’rith Youth Organization] and I didn’t feel like UB had anywhere where Jewish students could feel a sense of community,” Harsanyi said.

After Harsanyi went on Birthright trip, an education trip to Israel for young Jewish adults, through Aish, she formed a close relationship with her Rabbi.

Her Rabbi then told her about bringing Aish to Buffalo and that Harsanyi would be the best person for the job of recruitment manager.

“I had meetings with the two Rabbi’s who wanted to start Aish here and we hit it off,” Harsanyi said. “The organization took off from there.”

Aish is an organization for young Jewish students to have an interactive learning environment about their heritage and a comfortable community to be a part of.

The organization aims to build one-on-one relationships with students and make it a voluntary experience that students want to participate in. They want students to be able to continue to follow their religion while away from home and learn more about the culture and religion.

Under the directions of Rabbi Baruch Frankel and Rabbi Bentzy Teller, every Friday night Aish hosts free meals on Shabbat for the students who are a part of the organization.

During the week, the Rabbi’s can be found on campus hanging out with students while studying a wide range of topics. Students can attend classes called Maimonides, which include discussions, recreational activities and food.

“We chose to bring [Aish] to UB because we love a challenge,” Rabbi Frankel said. “With over 3,000 Jewish students on campus there's so much room for us young, dynamic Rabbi's and our wives to spread our energy.”

This organization offers two trips to Israel and Poland for students to connect to and further learn about their heritage.

The trip to Israel is a 2-3 week excursion in which students can live in Jerusalem and take classes in the morning. The rest of the day is full of traveling and exploring to get to the feel of what it is like to live in Israel.

On the Poland trip, students have the opportunity to visit concentration camps and experience Jewish history first hand in order to remember what their heritage had to go through to get to where they are now.

Harsanyi hired recruiters to work with her to help reach out to Jewish students and inform them about this new organization.

Their main source is word of mouth and informing friends of friends, but they also will spend time with tabling in the Student Union and using social media to get the word out.

Carly Kaminsky, a senior communication major and senior Aish recruiter, feels inspired by Aish and is a part of something where she can make a difference.

“I'm so confident in this organization and know that Aish is going to become extremely popular among the Jewish population here at UB,” Kaminsky said. “They provide their students with a recreational learning experience that makes everyone excited to learn and inclined to return.”

Dani Guglielmo is the features editor and can be reached at dani.guglielmo@ubspectrum.com


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