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Cleveland Hillel's Covid FAQ

What’s not changing?

While policy, procedures, and programming may look different, our core values remain the same, and Cleveland Hillel remains steadfast in its commitment to serving the community of Jewish students throughout Cleveland and in Oberlin.

What Jewish values are guiding Cleveland Hillel's decisions during Covid19?

  • Pikuah Nefesh (“Safeguarding Life”):  Supersedes most other obligations or mitzvot. Facilities and organizations must balance any efforts to reopen or resume operations with the obligation to preserve life. 

  • Sakanat Nefeshot (“Endangering Life”):  No one should be placed in a position where they may place their own lives or those of their families or loved ones in danger. 

  • She’at Hadehak (“Extraordinary Moment”):  We must remain flexible and adaptive to the times we find ourselves in; the Jewish people have shown amazing resiliency; this will be required now to ensure continuity of Jewish life. 

  • Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh (“We Are Responsible for One Another”): We have an obligation to look out for one another, regardless of circumstance, status or perception. 

  • Hesed (“Profound Love and Kindness”): With many people feeling anxious, lonely, distanced or at risk, we must be guided in our actions with these factors in mind. 


What precautions will be in place to ensure our health and safety at Cleveland Hillel?

Cleveland Hillel takes the health and safety of students and staff very seriously. Cleveland Hillel is following guidelines established by the CDC and local state, municipal and university/college health authorities. These guidelines include, but are not limited to:

  • Daily cleaning of the building

  • Regular sanitation of high touch areas throughout the day

  • Masks that cover an individual's chin and nose will be required at all Hillel in-person programs

  • Physical distancing will be enforced

  • Staff will answer a health screening and check their temperature to enter the building

  • Only one person will be permitted in the elevator at a time

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the building

  • Sanitation supplies and extra PPE will be available to those entering the building

Please note that guidelines are subject to change as public health recommendations change. In all cases, Cleveland Hillel senior leadership will take into consideration resumption-of-services decisions made by our community and campus partners but reserve the right to observe stricter standards if felt necessary.

Will Cleveland Hillel's building/workspaces be open in the Fall? 

The Albert & Norma Geller Hillel Student Center is Cleveland Hillel’s main physical facility, located nearby Case Western Reserve University's campus. Our building is typically open five days a week during the school year and serves as a resource for university & college students attending any school in Cleveland. As of now, our building is open for staff usage specifically, and will remain closed to in-person student activities and gatherings at least throughout August 2020.

Following the first few weeks of campus life, we will explore easing the restrictions re: possible spaces accessible to students to study, meet in small, socially distanced groups of no more than 10 people, and for meetings with staff and student leaders.


Our plan is to open indoor spaces as regulations change in Cleveland / Cuyahoga County, and to do so on a sliding scale that maintains as much safety as possible for all Cleveland Hillel students and staff. 

Can I reserve a room in the Cleveland Hillel building?

At this time, indoor spaces will be limited to staff only. As the semester progresses, and regulations change, indoor spaces may become available for use by reservation.

Do I have to wear a mask at the Hillel building and Hillel programs?

Yes; as noted above, all individuals must wear a mask indoors as well as outdoors when meeting with others. Individuals who have an ADA accommodation that prevents them from being able to wear a mask may present the exemption to the front desk upon entry.

Do you have a calendar of events and how can I stay up to date?

Contact the appropriate Cleveland Hillel staff member to receive our weekly student newsletters so you can stay up to date on all Hillel happenings and opportunities to get involved. We also provide ongoing updates on Facebook (Cleveland) / (Oberlin) and Instagram (Cleveland) / (Oberlin) where we post weekly event schedules.

I am not a student affiliated with Cleveland Hillel's schools; can I visit Cleveland Hillel?

We will be limiting visitors to Cleveland Hillel's building/workspaces this fall in order to ensure we uphold our mission of serving students and can do so as safely as possible.

Will Cleveland Hillel offer in person and virtual programming?

We will be creating opportunities to connect both virtually and (when safe and appropriate) in-person, based on our students' and staff members' comfort and willingness. We anticipate that any in-person programming offered will be held outdoors for at least the first few weeks of the semester.

What type of programs are offered through Hillel?

Hillel offers a diverse array of programming throughout the year, focused on educational fellowships, religious, spiritual, and cultural opportunities, holiday celebration, speakers and workshops, and social programs.

I’m a new student (or a returning student who hasn’t yet connected with the Jewish community), and I’m concerned about feeling isolated on campus with social distancing in place. How do I connect to Hillel programming and other communal opportunities? How do I know what’s right for me?

We know and share that isolation is a concern for students. Providing community is at the core of what we do at Cleveland Hillel. We are working hard to provide ways for students to connect with community, staff, and student leaders, both virtually and in-person. If you are not sure where to start, we invite you to connect with a professional or a student leader by emailing or contact our staff directly and we will help you navigate Jewish life on campus and help you find ways to connect!

Will Shabbat / Shabbat dinners be offered through Hillel?

Yes! We continue to offer certified kosher Shabbat meals to students free of charge, as well as exploring options for you to host a safe Shabbat dinner. While we do not yet know if dinners will be able to be served at the Cleveland Hillel building/workspaces this fall, we remain committed to helping all students observe Shabbat. 

For all Cleveland-area students: We will be collecting Shabbat RSVPs through a google form that’s due Thursdays by 12PM. Each time you fill out the form, you’ll be able to choose your type of gathering (solo, with roomies, or socially distanced outdoors), Shabbat Kit items, and dinner. The kits will be available for pick up at the Hillel building on Fridays. 

If you are you thinking, “Well, dinner with friends is great, but how will I get the special Shabbat spirit from Hillel?” The Shabbat spirit is here to stay, even when we’re apart! Each week, we’ll have Shabbat services led by Rob from 6-7PM EST on zoom, so you can join us from wherever!

Please click on this link for more information on Cleveland-area shabbat options: 


Are Shabbat meals free of charge?

Yes! Our team works hard to raise the necessary funds to ensure that any student can enjoy Shabbat dinners at no cost to them. Parents, alumni, and students who are interested in supporting this work can be in touch with Melissa Woodard, Cleveland Hillel's Manager, Development and Communications of Development, or can donate online.

What will the High Holidays look like?

In a typical year, Cleveland Hillel offers services, meals, and other creative ways to celebrate the holidays in Cleveland and in Oberlin. We know that this year will look very different, and we are working hard to ensure that students will have meaningful ways to celebrate these days. Please contact your local campus staff for updated information or ways to get involved in holiday celebrations.

Can Hillel help direct me to campus support services?

Cleveland Hillel is committed to ensuring students have trusted adults and services to support them. Students can reach out to any Cleveland Hillel staff member with concerns and they will help connect you with the appropriate campus (or off-campus) resource(s).

I am not going to be on or near campus. What will be available to me?

Much of what we offer this semester will be virtual, even for students who are on-campus, so all students, regardless of your physical location, will be welcome and encouraged to participate. Contact any Cleveland Hillel staff member or follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest program opportunities. 


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