Chabad Provides a Jewish Home Away From Home, Even After Many Years

Chabad Provides a Jewish Home Away From Home, Even After Many Years

Hilary Brett, Willa Rosenblum, Ariela Johnson, Kelsey Goldberg, Chelsea Berk, Seth Gideon, Julie Troyetsky and Caroline Corson reconnect at an August Chabad at UT alumni event in NYC. Credit: Rabbi Zev Johnson.

By Jordana Hoffman

From fall through spring, Rabbi Zev and Ariela Johnson tirelessly work to give Jewish students at the University of Texas at Austin a home away from home. This home is extremely versatile, a place where they serve dinner to hundreds of students during the holidays; lead them in prayer; and engage in conversations about Judaism.

Instead of taking a break each summer, Rabbi Johnson travels to ensure alumni know their ties to Chabad at UT are not severed after graduation.

Every year Chabad at UT tries to hold at least one alumni event, but this past summer Chabad held two: an August 8 event in New York, the first time Chabad at UT held an alumni event in New York and an August 14 event in Dallas.

The New York event was held on the rooftop of 230 5th Street, overlooking the city. Attendees reconnected with Rabbi Johnson and got to know other alumni who now live in New York. The alumni talked about what they are doing to stay connected to their Judaism in the fast-paced world that is New York and reminisced on how meaningful Chabad was to them when they were at UT.

Noah Meicler, a member of the class of 2012 and now a New York City resident, said, “It was a great turnout and great to catch up with the Longhorn nation out here in NYC at one of the trendiest rooftops in the city. The Chabad family was a very important piece in my college life experience. Providing a home away from home as well as a gathering place for my friends and I on Friday nights, holidays, and specially curated events throughout the week always a great time.”

The alumni in New York were not the only ones to have a great time. A few weeks later on the rooftop of the HG SPLY Co. the Dallas alumni came together, also with a fantastic turnout. Again people discussed how much Chabad at UT meant to them in their college days. This event gave people a chance to reconnect with their fellow Jewish alumni and meet everyone who recently moved to Dallas.

Besides catching up with Rabbi Johnson, the event gave them a great opportunity to catch up and learn about what is going on at Chabad now.

Ryan Pearlman, a member of the class of 2015 from Dallas said, “The summer event this year was a great way to hear about what is going on at the UT Chabad down in Austin, reconnect with fellow Jewish Longhorns, meet new ones as well as spend time with the Johnsons, who helped us maintain and shape our Jewish Identities throughout some of our most formative years.”

Whether they just graduated in the spring of 2018 or in years past, UT alumni at the events still felt a connection to their Chabad and Rabbi Johnson. They turned up in droves to catch up, reconnect and learn about what the future of Chabad looks like, proving just how meaningful and special Chabad at UT is.

Those interested in supporting Chabad at UT are encouraged to provide contributions throughout the year through Chabad Shares, which allows for monthly donations that help Jewish students of all denominations to learn, thrive and connect with one another. This is a chance to become an active part of this community while helping to ensure its future. ■

For those who would like to learn about what makes Chabad at UT special, visit

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