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For the latest information about the University of Florida's COVID-19 response, please visit

UF Hillel Health and Safety Plan

Updated: August 28, 2020

Even in this time of ongoing uncertainty and change, UF Hillel seeks to live by our Jewish values. In the wake of COVID-19, we took a values-driven approach to guide the revisions to our organization protocol and will continue to do so as the situation evolves.

As the University of Florida prepares to resume in-person instruction and welcome students back to campus, UF Hillel will continue to fulfill our mission to serve Jewish students, guided by Jewish values and best practices from the CDC, Alachua County, and the University of Florida.  UF Hillel’s work to support students and help them find meaning and purpose is vital during these unprecedented times. While the months ahead will surely be full of challenges, they are also ripe with potential that UF Hillel will strive to realize. 

Pikuah Nefesh פיקוח נפש (“Safeguarding Life”)

In Jewish tradition, the obligation to protect life supersedes all else. In keeping with the Jewish value of Pikuah Nefesh (“Safeguarding Life”), UF Hillel closed our physical facility following the outbreak of COVID-19 and transitioned to remotely serving UF’s Jewish students utilizing technology. Our reopening plan seeks to safeguard health and well-being as we resume in-person operations through the following life-preserving actions:

  • Require face coverings and physical distancing.

  • Utilize outdoor space whenever possible, modify building setup to promote physical distancing, and limit the size of gatherings based on guidance from Alachua County (reduced to 50 persosn outdoors, effective 8/31) and the University of Florida.

  • Track and screen all staff, students, and guests upon entry to the building or a UF Hillel event, which will include the collection of contact information, answering screening questions, and a temperature check. Utilize this tracking to enable contact tracing should that be necessary.  Staff are required to undergo health screening every day upon arrival to work.

  • Promote handwashing through strategic placement of hand sanitizing stations and additional signage in restrooms. Install automatic soap dispensers and faucets to enable enhanced hygiene.

  • Increase cleaning and sanitation of the building and provide staff with resources to clean and sanitize high contact surfaces on an ongoing basis.

She’at Hadehak שעת הדחק (“Extraordinary Moment”)

These are unprecedented times filled with uncertainty. To meet the demands of this unique time, UF Hillel is modifying our program delivery accordingly, which includes adhering to UF’s Campus Events and Gatherings Policies. We will remain flexible as the pandemic evolves and will review our procedures on an ongoing basis to ensure we’re following best practices. Modifications include: 

  • Discontinuing of large, in person gatherings.

  • Focus on high-impact, small group experiences, including relationship based engagement, one-to-one interactions, and emphasis on our cohort-based programs, such as our Jewish Learning Fellowship, Leaders of Change, and student interest groups. 

  • Require RSVPs, as appropriate, to manage gathering size.

  • Limit food service based on UF’s Catering Operator Protocols in Response to COVID-19.

  • Encourage gathering outdoors whenever possible and facilitate this through the purchase of a large tent (roughly 1,200 square feet) for UF Hillel’s east lawn.

Hesed חסד (“Loving Kindness”)

This crisis has evoked a wide range of responses within our community. During these challenging times, students need connection and community. UF Hillel is committed to tackling this challenge by providing students with ongoing emotional, spiritual, and social support. Recognizing the ambiguity around reopening, we will strive to clearly communicate our approach from a values-based perspective.

  • Continue to reach and support students through our successful relationship based strategy.

  • Create a safe and monitored environment for students so they can responsibly and comfortably gather in person or virtually. 

  • Clearly communicate this plan to stakeholders through building signage, on UF Hillel’s website, through social media, and in other places as appropriate.

  • Strive, where possible, to provide virtual options for students who choose not to attend events or gather in person, and provide appropriate accommodations and alternative options for those who might be immunocompromised and/or have a disability that precludes their in-person participation.


Should you have any questions about UF Hillel's efforts to keep our community safer, please contact Rabbi  Jonah Zinn at (352) 248-2602

Please consider making a gift of tzedakah to help Hillel keep

UF's Jewish community safe.

Thanks to the generosity of parents, alumni, and other friends of UF Hillel, we are able to purchase the necessary supplies that will allow us to operate safely and responsibly during this time.

Major unanticipated expenses include the 1,200 square foot outdoor tent, additional tables and chairs, PPE, touchless hand sanitizing fixtures, food service modifications, and other items.

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