ATHENS JEWISH COMMUNITY
the book club
Now in our sixth year, the Hillel Book Club reads and discusses fiction and non-fiction books on Jewish subjects or books by Jewish authors. We choose both modern and historical books, and enjoy lively and intelligent discussions focused on the readings. Occasionally, we view Jewish films or other media of a similar nature. Our discussions often wander from the confines of the book to include general discussions of Jewish life in history, the modern world, and in Athens itself. We meet every 4 to 6 weeks, on Sundays, at one of our houses.
Even if you don't think you have time to read the book, everyone is welcome to enjoy good discussions, good friends, and always a good nosh.
Past book club choices include: A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, The Discontinuity of Small Things by Kevin Haworth, The Messiaen Quartet by Rebecca Rishin.
If you want more information, please feel free to call David Burke at 740-592-1510.
Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery
The Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery consists of approximately 188 grave sites that have been set aside for individuals of the Jewish faith. Non-Jewish partners and children are eligible to be interred in the cemetery. The cemetery is located in a separate area that is bordered with tall shrubs for privacy within the confines of the Alexander Cemetery. Both the Alexander Cemetery and the Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery are registered with the State of Ohio as non-profit businesses and are located a few miles outside of Athens, off State Rte. 50.
The Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery is governed by the Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery Association (SOJA) which is also a non-profit business. The membership of SOJA is composed of individuals who own plots in the cemetery. The annual SOJA business meeting is generally held in late Spring/early Summer. The Association is responsible for maintaining the Jewish identity of the Cemetery and is permitted to establish its own fee schedule and eligibility policies, but the price of a plot cannot be less than the current fee for the Alexander Cemetery at the time of purchase. With the exception of religious considerations, the Southeastern Ohio Jewish Cemetery is expected to operate within the framework of Alexander Cemetery's general policies and procedures. A member of the Association's Board sits on the Board of the Alexander Cemetery.
Frequently Asked questions
Q: How many Jews live in Athens? What’s Jewish life like in Athens?
A: Hillel estimates at least 200 Jewish households live in Athens and the surrounding areas – a household is defined in a variety of ways – families with children, singles, and interfaith couples. Out of the estimated 200 Jewish households, Hillel has approximately 140 household units on our roster that receive information about programs and services at Hillel. Jewish life in Athens is unique. We’re the only game in town, so Jews are encouraged to help create and sustain sub-groups (see Hadassah, The Book Club), and to voice their needs to the rabbi and Hillel staff when they’re interested in making things happen. We offer adult education classes, host an exciting and entertaining fundraising event in early Spring, and seek to create friendships among Jewish residents in the area. Jews of Athens are a diverse crowd – artists, writers, professors, therapists, musicians, farmers, homemakers, doctors, and more.
Q: Is there a religious school for kids? Bar and Bat Mitzvah training?
A: Given the small number of Jewish children in the Athens area, we don't offer regular, ongoing religious education. We do, however, offer a monthly Family Shabbat program that focuses on music, community building, and positive Shabbat experiences.
Families with children nearing bar and bat mitzvah age are encouraged to schedule a meeting with Rabbi Danielle Leshaw to discuss possible scenarios for Hebrew tutoring, family involvement, tikkun olam projects, and service outlines. With so few children in the current community, it’s rare that a bar or bat mitzvah “class” is assembled. In all likelihood, families will meet independently with the rabbi or a tutor, and tailor the service and the experience to meet the needs of those involved.
Q: Are there dues?
A: We strongly encourage Jews of Athens and the surrounding areas to support Jewish life in Southeastern Ohio. Dues can be paid ($475 for families and $225 for singles), or an annual contribution of your choice can be made to Hillel.
Q: Can we buy kosher food?
A: Yes! Kroger and WalMart stock a huge variety of kosher products. Kroger also supplies frozen Empire chicken and various kinds of kosher hot dogs. Otherwise, kosher meat is impossible to find in Athens. Bexley Kosher Market in Columbus is the place to go for beef and other meat products.
Q: What’s the nearest synagogue other than Hillel?
A: Columbus, baby, and that’s quite a shlepp. Check us out, you won’t be disappointed!