What is the Jewish community like at High Point? How large is the Jewish population?
Approximately 75 Jewish students currently attend High Point University, a number that has doubled in the past year with 38 Jewish students in the freshman class. Jewish students at High Point come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. Some come from families that have made Judaism an integral part of their lives, and some from families that have little or no tradition of practicing Judaism. We have students who come from families with two Jewish parents and others from families with one Jewish parent. We even have some non-Jewish students who have become interested in Jewish culture, history and theology. All students are welcome at our events, and a number of Jewish faculty members are also active participants in the community.
What opportunities does the university offer for Jewish students?
The dramatic growth of our community has sparked a wave of new activities this year. In addition to our tradition of transporting students to area synagogues for High Holidays services and to holiday meals at the home of the faculty advisor to the Jewish Students Association, this semester the university hosted an event featuring Israeli and Palestinian students from the OneVoice Movement, which seeks to promote a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Students have traveled to the University of North Carolina- Greensboro for a regional Shabbat dinner and organized a Hanukkah party, and spring events will include a celebration of Purim and a Passover seder.
We are also laying the foundations for building a greater presence in the High Point, Piedmont Triad, and North Carolina Jewish communities. Jewish students at High Point have the opportunity to participate in all NC Hillel activities, including the free Birthright trip to Israel that occurs every year over winter break. On a more local level, with the growth of our population we hope to establish a more active tradition of tikkunolam('repairing the world") by involving students in the wide variety of Jewish social action activities available through the university, local synagogues, and Jewish organizations throughout the Triad.
Finally, the university has recognized the growing demand for academic opportunities to explore Judaism. In addition to our extremely popular course on the History of the Middle East, taught by the chair of the history department Dr. Larry Simpson, this spring the Religion department is offering an Introduction to Judaism class taught by Rabbi Michael Gisser of the nationally renowned American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro. As the demand continues to grow, the university is exploring additional classes on the histories of European and American Jewry as well as a foreign language class in Hebrew.
What is it like to be Jewish at High Point?
High Point University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, but that does not mean that everyone on campus is Methodist (or even Christian), nor does that affiliation dictate the way faculty teach their courses. The university is committed to religious diversity and tolerance, and the university chaplain is among the biggest supporters of the Jewish community. Jewish students feel comfortable and well supported in this community. If you have any questions, please contact the advisor of the Jewish Students' Association, who will be happy to put you directly in touch with Jewish undergraduates.
Is there kosher food on campus?
There is no kosher dining facility at High point, but the university offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan dining options. During Passover, the main dining halls offer matzo and other kosher for Passover foods.