Hillel at Butler University was founded by students in the 1996-97 academic year, after a long absence of a formal Jewish students’ organization on Butler University’s campus. Its purpose is to provide an on-campus Jewish environment at Butler to meet the needs of Butler’s Jewish students and to provide education and a Jewish perspective to Butler’s non-Jewish population.
Butler’s Jewish student population is small and is estimated to be about 2%-3% of the entire student population. We have a part-time rabbi with us who leads us in monthly Shabbat services and a volunteer advisor who meets with the group weekly. We strive to create the kind of Jewish environment that speaks to our students and enriches their sense of Jewish identity. We are the one place on campus to gather with fellow Jews in celebration, social action, worship, discussion and learning.
We are affiliated with Hillel as a Hillel Student Organization and are housed in the Butler Center for Faith and Vocation Center, affording us a home for meetings, Shabbat dinners and other activities.
Indianapolis has a small, but vibrant, Jewish community of about 11,000 people (about 1% of the metropolitan population) and a rich Jewish history. There are five Synagogues within 4 miles of Butler’s campus, comprising the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform and Sephardic traditions. Rabbis and members of the Synagogues serve as adjunct professors in Butler University’s Jewish studies courses. All of the Synagogues have opened their doors to Butler University students for Torah study, Shabbat services, High Holy Days and holiday celebrations. There is a weekly Jewish newspaper — the Jewish Post & Opinion.
Indianapolis also boasts of a strong and healthy Jewish Federation, Bureau of Jewish Education, and Jewish Community Center; all just minutes away from Butler University. Throughout Indianapolis there are many opportunities for engagement in Jewish life — from guest speakers, films, plays and Israeli dancing to music, seminars, holiday celebrations, Torah study, volunteer activities, and part-time and summer employment for college students.