Orthodox Jewish life at Brandeis University is vibrant and extensive. Consisting of around 250 students, Brandeis's Orthodox community is one of the largest and most active of any college campus worldwide. Its members are among the most visible participants in general campus life and are valued contributors to the Student Union, the arts, the printed media, athletics, and Hillel, among other endeavors. The relatively small size of the University (around 3,400 undergraduates) engenders many opportunities for fusing religious growth with a genuine commitment to the broader campus community.
BOO maintains campus Orthodox minyanim. This includes weekday minyanim. The community sustains one shacharit and two mincha and maariv minyanim, as well as Shabbat minyanim with over 100 members in attendance. Please send questions, suggestions, and comments to our gabbai Casey Lamar. If you would like to read Torah, please contact Ben Margolin.
Torah study is a central component of Orthodox campus life. The BOO Beit Midrash, located in the basement of freshmen dormitory Shapiro Residence Hall, is a comfortable enclave of Torah study. This Beit Midrash houses thousands of Jewish books ranging from ancient texts to modern journals. On any given weekday, over 50 students spend time here studying religious texts. Brandeis' JLI couple lead weekly shiurim (classes) on a variety of textual, halachic, and philosophical topics.
Student-run learning initiatives include many weekly chaburot, amounting to several each evening. The Beit Midrash is also home to Thursday night Mishmar, featuring a student-led shiur and chulent. Sunday Night Learning (SNL) is a weekly program which combines chavruta-style learning with pizza and snacks. To give a shiur, lead a chabura, or find a chavruta, contact Elisha Penn.
Kosher Dining at Brandeis
Click here for Hillel at Brandeis' comprehensive guide to "Keeping Kosher on Campus."
Rabbi David Pardo and Ariel Pardo, members of Brandeis Hillel Staff, act as advisors to the BOO community on all aspects of Orthodox life. They offer weekly shiurim (classes) on a variety of topics and learn one-on-one with dozens of students. Rabbi David Pardo received his Bachelors from UCLA and smikha from Yeshiva University, with supplementary education from the Isralight Institute and the CJF. Ariel attended YULA for high school after which time she went to UCLA. After graduating cum laude with a degree in anthropology, she went to Nishmat's Alisa Flatow program for post-college students.
Shabbat and Holidays
BOO provides weekly Friday night, Shabbat morning, and Shabbat afternoon davening, including kiddush after Shacharit and seudah shlishit between Mincha and Maariv. There are also weekly onegs, tisches, and frequent guest speakers and scholars-in-residence.
For Shabbat dinner, many Orthodox students choose to dine with the greater Jewish community at Hillel's communal meal. Students also enjoy Shabbat dinner at the off-campus Chabad House, which offers a more intimate setting. After eating, Orthodox students may gather in upperclassmen suites for BOO-sponsored onegs, or in the Beit Midrash to partake in informal study (and snacking).
On Shabbat day, students choose to relax from their busy week with friends. When the weather is warm, one can find Orthodox students lounging, reading, and learning Torah outside on the lush, green lawns of Brandeis.
The BOO community is a warm, comfortable, and tight-knit group. Its unique warmth is due in part to the small size of the University, which engenders a bond of familiarity among BOO's roughly 250 members. Indeed, no observant Jew is a stranger at Brandeis: a common kosher dining hall, close living quarters, and communal religious and social events strengthen the bonds of the Jewish community. Orthodox students find plenty of means to extend their social roots into other campus clubs, media, and student government, but BOO's comprehensive social events calendar brings the community together through culture, sport, food, and religious celebration. BOO organizes weekly Friday night onegs and tisches, as well as extensive social programming.
Past events include trivia night, mini golf, BOO Ice Skating, Casino Night, BOO Oscars, the BOO Coffeehouse (music and comedy performances at Chums, the campus cafe), and annual Purim seudot. To view previous pictures from events click here. To get involved contact Danielle Lebowitz, the Social Events coordinator.
To get involved, contact Orly Goldberg, the Chesed Coordinator.
The BOO Constitution
Sometimes you just need to look something up in the Constitution, so here it is. Thanks to the Constitutional Review Committee of 2014 for working tirelessly to ensure the new Constitution is clear, concise, and (of course) grammatically correct!
BOO in the News
Extra, extra! BOO's making headlines. Read all about it here.
The BOO community consists of members from a wide variety of religious, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. Students range from graduates of seminaries and yeshivot to previously non-Orthodox graduates of public school. While a significant portion of the community comes from the east coast, many students hail from more distant locales. BOO caters to an Orthodox lifestyle on campus, but it more than welcomes students of all denominations and religious backgrounds.