Want to get in touch with Judaism but don’t know where to start? Then Baruch is definitely the club for you! This week, we delve into one of the oldest and most accepting reform groups on campus, who promises to help you “find your joyous Jewish second home.” The Brandeis Hoot sat down with Noah “Smiley” Glassberg ’25, the current president of Baruch, to talk a bit more about what the club is all about.
Baruch was founded in the 1950s, making it the oldest Hillel group at Brandeis. The goal of Baruch is “to provide religious, social, educational, and cultural services and activities for anyone who identifies with reform Judaism on Brandeis campus—whether that’s someone who is raised reform Jewish, someone who is raised Jewish in another way and wants to participate, or folks who aren’t Jewish and want to experience our culture.”
Keeping Baruch operating requires a lot of work on Glassberg’s end, who notes that running the club is like a balancing act. “Unlike a lot of other clubs on campus, we’re responsible for providing religious services but also social events.” Shabbat services already account for four events a month, and Baruch makes an effort to hold “religious events for any holidays, social [events] and cultural events.” This process can be quite tiring and time consuming for the club’s board members. Glassberg notes “to have programming that is intentional instead of just as many things as we can is really really tough.”
A typical board meeting for Baruch usually includes an hour of commitment each week in which the members catch up with one another and go over the previous and upcoming weeks, as well as any expected events. “We talk about money, we talk about room reservations and things like that,” says Glassberg. “That’s the only time we’re all together as a board.”
Additionally, Baruch holds a general meeting once a semester. Open to the entire Brandeis student body, it focuses on giving back to and making the community feel heard. “We usually give a presentation on what we’ve done that semester … we share some photos, and … ask for … questions [and] concerns that people from the community may have had for that semester,” Glassberg shares.
On-campus events are where Baruch really is able to shine. For instance, the club held a thrift market for Tu BiShvat, the Jewish holiday that focuses on appreciation of trees and the environment. The event included gathering unwanted clothes that were to be thrown away and creating a small market in Upper Usdan. “We ended up raising over $1000 for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which helps communities who are in danger of having their native land stripped away through deforestation in Central and South America,” says Glassberg, who hopes the club can do something like it again this year. Though Glassberg does mention that most of the club’s large events, centered around the holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, have passed, there are a few more exciting gatherings to be held. On Oct. 4, the club is hosting Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, both an orthodox Rabbi and strong upholder of LGBTQ rights, as well as a “scholar for queer and trans Torah study at the world’s largest LGBTQ synagogue,” who will talk about what his work consists of, his reasons for doing it, and its extreme significance in the world.
Alongside its passion for giving to the community and upholding worthwhile values, Baruch is one of the best places to feel seen and practice interconnectedness. In fact, Glassberg’s favorite part of being in Baruch “is seeing all the smiles on everyone’s faces and seeing how happy and fulfilled people are when they’re singing at a service, when they’re listening to someone talk, or when people come and they make friends and form connections.” Unfortunately, it is Glassberg’s final semester on the club board, but elections will be held in the approaching months to create a brand new, passionate board of members!
If you want to become a part of an inclusive and welcoming reform community, then catch Baruch on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at their upcoming event outside Sherman: Solidarity in the Sukkah with Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, or at their regularly scheduled Friday night services at 5 p.m., at the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) 2nd floor Multi-Purpose Room!