Hillel at Ohio University (left, courtesy of Hillel @ OU) and Ohio University Chabad (right, WOUB photo)
Hillel at Ohio University (left, courtesy of Hillel @ OU) and Ohio University Chabad (right, WOUB photo)

Hillel and Chabad Will be Open for Students and Jewish Community in Athens

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Leaders of two Jewish organizations in Athens say their doors will be open for anyone in the community, even as Ohio University has moved to online-only classes.

OU announced Tuesday that in-person classes are suspended until March 30, and encouraged students currently on spring break to stay home in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Sarah Livingston, director of Hillel at Ohio University, said the center on Mill Street will be open next week for students who need support and want to be with their faith community.

“The biggest things that I’m focused on right now is just general pastoral care, sort of making sure that the students know that we’re here for them if they’re anxious or concerned or upset, we’re here to talk, and just making sure that they feel kind of safe,” she said. 

Hillel at OU will cancel observance of Shabbat while the university is closed (March 20 and 27).

Rabbi Levi Raichik, director of Ohio University Chabad, said the center on Court Street will be open for students to study and be together if they come back to campus.

I believe that many students will come back to Athens,” he said. “Maybe not immediately, but definitely before March 30, especially for the weekends.” 

He said Shabbat observance will occur as normal following spring break, but be “smaller.”

“We’re going to be open for Shabbat and all day. (Students) can do their work at Chabad if they need a place.”

Hillel at OU offers Jewish learning weekly for students and community members. Livingston said her staff is working to provide group learning opportunities for students and community members online.

Chabad offers a Jewish Sunday School for the community that has been moved from March 15 to March 22.

Raichik said OU Chabad may change its plans for Passover if the university decides to keep students away for longer. Currently, classes will be online-only through March 30.