This evening, Swarthmore’s Jewish organization, formerly Swarthmore Hillel, officially announced its new name: Swarthmore Kehilah (meaning “Community”). The decision was made through an open submission process for new names and two rounds of voting. On Sunday at 7PM, online voting closed and President Sarah Revesz ‘17 announced the new name at the college’s Beit Midrash to a room packed with Jewish students taking part in the re-naming celebration.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be writing with the new name of Swarthmore’s Jewish community – a name that together, we all chose for ourselves,” Revesz wrote in the announcement email to Jewish students on campus. “It’s been wonderful to see how many people have gotten involved in this process over the past week. We had a strong voter turnout and it makes me glad to see so many people taking the steps to make this community your own.”
Swarthmore Kehilah’s new name announcement graphic:
The open re-naming decision process followed on the heels of the student board’s decision to no longer use the name “Hillel” after facing legal threats from Hillel International over Israel-Palestine programming on March 16. Swarthmore Kehilah opened up submissions for new names on March 18, and mailed out the voting form to Jewish students on March 20. Students were allowed to vote for as many names as they liked and voting closed at 11:59PM on March 21. The initial ballots resulted in a tie between “Ruach” (the old name used by the Jewish community before it affiliated with Hillel) and “Kehilah.” The organization held a “lightning run-off” all day Sunday, and closed final voting at 7PM.
This week, Swarthmore Kehilah will be launching sign-ups for its annual Passover seders and food co-op; hosting civil rights veterans Ira Grupper, Mark Levy, Larry Rubin, and Dorothy Zellner; and holding weekly Shabbat services and a fun board games night following dinner.