Konar Center for Tolerance and Jewish Studies


Student Reflection: Hillel at Naz

Ally Yanoff '21, Music Composition (Music Theory & Music History minors)

Being an active member of Hillel during my time at Nazareth, especially this past year, has been a meaningful and important aspect of my college experience. Hillel has provided me a sense of connection, community, care, and belonging. Having a Jewish community on my campus allows me to feel more in touch with my Judaism, to be represented in my identity, to learn more about Jewish values and traditions, and to make new friends with potentially similar religious backgrounds. As important as it is to have diversity within our communities, it can be highly comforting to be around people who have things in common with you and who can understand certain experiences or concepts that most other people you are around might not.

I love the Hillel community’s support and comfort that is especially needed when discriminatory and inhumane events happen in the local area or around the world. The zooms I participated in have been a safe, welcoming space for me as well as a social, relaxing time. Some Hillel events have been the fun pick-me-up needed during the stressful semester like the Purim Mishloach Manot and planning Hillel t-shirts. I enjoyed that Hillel created connections with other colleges this semester such as for ROC Hillel Winterfest, the Omer Workbook zooms, and the Jewish Learning Fellowship which included Rochester area colleges and Hillel at Home events which connected people in colleges from all around the country.

A highlight of this semester’s events was the Hillel Passover Seder which connected the Haggadah to modern day life and was one of the most significant seders I’ve ever had as it increased my understanding of the holiday and gave me much more to consider. Similar to that which I learned from the Jewish Learning Fellowship, I was able to discover more ways in which I can practice my Judaism and was able to see how Jewish values and practices relate to and can guide my personal world. Additionally, I was grateful to be able to help others learn about Judaism, such as at the Teaching Seder, and to sing a Jewish prayer at an interfaith service.

Furthermore, the zoom webinars by the Konar Center have helped me become more educated and prepared for social justice pursuits as well as grow my values and identity as a member of humanity. Likewise, I am pleased to be a part of the Konar Center’s efforts to support other minority groups as an injustice towards any person affects us all in harmful ways. Judaism’s principle of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) has been a major takeaway from my time with Hillel, coinciding with Nazareth’s goal of making a positive impact on the world.

Student reflection: Civil Rights Law course

Amelia Johnson '22, Communication and Media (Legal Studies minor)

One of the most pressing and discussed topics right now is ‘the year 2020’ and its lasting effects on American society. As Americans, we were presented with a lot of internal and external conflict caused by the global pandemic, civil unrest, and an extreme shift in our political landscape. All of these things that happened dealt with the rights that we all have been taught we are entitled to. However, what rights do we actually have? How do our rights and our opinions impact our political landscape? What do we need to know in order to make a change?

All of these questions can be analyzed and answered while taking Civil Rights Law at Naz. This class focuses on the responsibilities of the federal government, the U.S. Supreme Court, and how civil rights have advanced (or been pushed back) throughout history. The course content is presented through pretty standard assignments (readings, videos, and papers), but the content you write about is anything but. You will discuss the biases that hinder minority groups from gaining equal rights, the precedents that guide the Supreme Court to make decisions and specific Supreme Court cases, listen to and pick the brains of guest speakers, and a plethora of other topics. This class adapts to the year it is in. This is a time where there is a large push to get involved in government and make the change you wish to see, as Gandhi would say. So there is no better time to enroll in the course. What happened in 2020 did not stay in 2020; we are still dealing with all of the same issues as we did then.

Something you may be thinking is that you could not possibly take a 300 level law course or that you are not prepared for the work that the course would bring. To that, I say that you should push that doubt to the side and go for it. That’s what I did. I was terrified for my first day of class, shaking in my boots for my first law class ever, and was immediately challenged in the best ways possible. I was presented with questions that made me critically think about our government and the decisions it makes. I was encouraged to ask any question that I had in order to better understand the concepts and nuances. The environment is welcoming to confusion and a great place to expand your knowledge. It is hard work, but it is more than worth it. This class is on my list of top 5 Naz classes (I have been through quite the catalogue of courses), and I could not recommend it more highly. I hope I inspire you to take this class, and if you do, I hope you have a similar learning experience.



Ally Yanoff, '21, Music Composition, (Music Theory & Music History)

















Amelia Johnson, '22, Communication and Media, (Legal Studies)