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2018-02-09 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


February 9, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

USF Hillel creates tasty (and free) way to enlighten students about Israel

USF students sampling free homemde ice cream. USF students sampling free homemde ice cream. What’s the newest item on the University of South Florida Hillel menu? Homemade ice cream.

It is the latest addition to the kosher kitchen that opened last year when USF Hillel expanded its facilities. A commercial ice cream maker, donated to Hillel, resulted in the new treat: the USF Hillel Ice Cream Parlor.

Like other ice cream shops, this one serves delicious, homemade ice cream. Unlike other ice cream shops, USF Hillel’s ice cream is free to any student who attends a fun, social and welcoming weekly event at the Morris and Bertha Escoll Center for Jewish Campus Life.

And the cherry on top, at the event, the general USF student population learns about the wonders of Israel at a time when anti-Israel sentiment is out-front on college campuses throughout the country.

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Suncoast Hillels’ executive director and a self-proclaimed ice cream fanatic, explained how the idea for the Hillel Ice Cream Parlor was conceived.

“One of our donors offered to underwrite a commercial ice cream maker as part of our USF Hillel Kitchen Registry,” said Rosenthal. “Not only was I extremely excited about the prospect of having our own homemade Hillel ice cream on campus, but I also realized that this would be a really creative and unique way to reach the 80 percent of USF students who don’t know or care about Israel, Jews or Hillel beyond what they see in The Oracle, USF’s weekly newspaper.”

But that changes when students come to one of the weekly ice cream parlor programs. “They’re greeted by Hillel students and staff, they see photos and videos of Israel on a high-definition monitor, they hear contemporary Israeli music-and-read large banners about Israeli innovations and contributions to the world,” said Rosenthal. “They talk with USF Hillel students about Israel on a positive, one-onone basis, which is what I hoped would happen with this program.”

While the ice cream is free, in the spirit of tikkun olam (repairing the world,) students who come to the Ice Cream Parlor are encouraged to make a small donation to one of three charitable organizations: the Humane Society, the American Diabetes Association or the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This request is meant to teach students about the Jewish values of philanthropy and giving back to make the world a better place.

Since the USF Hillel Ice Cream Parlor opened in the fall, several hundred students have already taken part in the tasty weekly events.

Offering a variety of custom flavors that change weekly, Ice Cream Parlor nights have attracted different groups and organizations including: the Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) Interfaith Leadership Council, multiple USF Medical School Student Association groups; the USF Campus-Wide Relay for Life Committee; and the USF World Study Abroad program. More student organizations are already on the schedule for future Ice Cream Parlor nights in the spring semester.

USF Hillel has also recently created a 36-flavors campaign, giving donors in the community an opportunity to design his or her own custom flavor, name it and become a part of this unique Israel education program.

For a donation of $250, the donor’s custom creation will be a featured Flavor of the Month at four weekly USF Hillel Ice Cream Parlors, and the donor will also receive two complimentary quarts of his or her ice cream.

The weekly USF Hillel Ice Cream Parlor is funded, in part, by a Hinenu mini-grant from Hillel International, the parent organization of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast.

For questions or additional information about the USF Hillel Ice Cream Parlor or Hillel’s new 36-Flavors program, call Linda Wolf, Suncoast Hillels’ assistant director, at (813) 899-2788 or email

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