Hillel Jewish Queer Collective hosts Rainbow Challah Making event

Organizers hope to promote community ahead of the holidays

Hillel Jewish Queer Collective hosts Rainbow Challah Making event
Students make rainbow-colored Challah at Hillel’s Jewish Queer Collective annual event.

On a Thursday night in the McDowell formal lounge, students yelled movie hot takes while “Firework” by Katy Perry played as Hillel’s Jewish Queer Collective hosted its annual Rainbow Challah Making event. 

The smell of challah, a braided Jewish bread, permeated the air from the kosher kitchen next door.

American University Hillel’s Jewish Queer Collective hosted the event a week before Hanukkah to promote community among LGBTQ+ Jewish students after a year and a half of online events. For most attendees, this was their first time making the dish.

“Making challah is such an iconic tradition among Jewish people and I’ve never actually done it before, so it's nice to have this opportunity to do it,” said Noah Conn, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.

For some, the event was a way to embrace their Jewish identity away from home. Lane Shnell, a freshman in the CAS, describes themself as an “ongoing convert” to Judaism.

“I never had experience making challah before, and I’m a relatively new convert so experiencing parts of the culture are very important to me in getting my foot in the door,” Shnell said. “And the fact that it was queer friendly just made it even better.”

This is the first year that JQC has been able to host in-person events, and so far they’ve been successful in promoting community amongst LGBTQ+ Jewish students, according to JQC member Atlas Klus, a junior in the School of International Service.

“Just coming back to such a large community has been really nice,” Klus said. “There’s so many freshmen and sophomores that haven’t had in person in a year so them coming to events has been so amazing.”

Hillel has a full calendar of events planned during Hanukkah, which starts the evening of Nov. 28. 

“We’re excited to see people in person,” Klus said. “Since Hanukkah isn’t during break, we hope people will come out and have fun.”


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